A section of the N17 between Knock and Claremorris. Claremorris Chamber of Commerce want to see a motorway between Tuam and Sligo to address road safety concerns. Image from Google Maps

Mayo call to put Tuam to Sligo motorway back on agenda

WITH increased traffic on the N17 posing a serious road safety risk, Claremorris Chamber of Commerce is calling for the restoration of the M17 Tuam-Claremorris-Sligo route.

The Chamber has contacted Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) urging that the motorway be made a reality.

At a meeting of Claremorris Chamber - before the recent spate of fatal accidents - concerns were raised about the ongoing status and delays with the final design decision and funding of a new route further north, from Charlestown to Collooney.

The Chamber set out: “That road is carrying twice as much traffic than a decade ago. The plan and design of this has changed from motorway to a two-and-one carriageway, and now we hear that it is to be reduced to a single lane road.

“That is both unsafe and inadequate, as unsafe and inadequate as the current N17 just north of Claremorris.”

While they intend to press politicians to act the reality is that if TII considers this a priority, it will become a design, fund and build priority. “For that reason, Claremorris Chamber of Commerce asks you to raise the issue and our concerns at the next meetings of the management team and the board,” stated Gerard Hanley, president, Claremorris Chamber of Commerce, in correspondence to TII.

The N17 north of Claremorris is now one of the most dangerous roads in Ireland.

On March 11, it took two hours for emergency services to cut two women from the wreckage of a three-vehicle collision. On March 26, three people, a mother and her two daughters, died instantly in a multi-vehicle crash close to the site of that accident. And on March 30, a young pedestrian was killed close to both of those crashes.

The Chamber statement continued: “It took the wiping out of three generations from the one family on September 11, 2017, for TII to intervene and sanction a €10 million flyover and on/off ramps on the N17 at Lisduff, which is about two miles south of those three accident sites. How many more people have to be killed and injured for TII to deal once and for all with an evidently substandard single carriageway design in the vicinity of N17 Ballinasmalla and Barnacarroll?

“TII knows that motorways offer the safest and most efficient standard, yet the proposed M17 from Tuam to Claremorris has been sunk without trace.

“It is no defence to say that this project would have been no help given that the four most recent fatalities occurred on a stretch which that motorway would not have reached. The point is that motorway is needed all the way from Tuam to Sligo and onwards to Donegal and Derry.

“Until we get that standard of road, the fatalities and the disabilities will continue to mount and countless families will be bereft.”

TII's traffic count data indicate that the ADT at Kilcloony, between Tuam and Claremorris, increased from 7,500 in 2020 to 10,500 in 2023. As well as being a phenomenal increase, the figure underlines what Claremorris Chamber of Commerce is saying - the existing single carriageway is hopelessly inadequate for need, and a clear and present danger to all road users, including pedestrians.

“We cannot and will not wait as more people are killed and injured and the answer as plain as day.”