A section of the existing Tullamore to Kilbeggan road at Durrow.

Tullamore to Kilbeggan road plan ‘effectively dead in the water’

The long-awaited N52 link road between Kilbeggan and Tullamore was described as being “dead in the water” at a meeting of Westmeath County Council last week.

Westmeath County Council’s Director of Services, Barry Kehoe, confirmed to members that the road, which was planned by Offaly and Westmeath County Councils is “unlikely to proceed in the near future” and added the project would be mothballed and the appointment of consultants cancelled.

He said they were left with no option but to take this action due to the fact that there was no funding allocation from Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) for 2022 to progress the road project.

“So what you are saying is that this project is effectively dead in the water?” remarked Cllr Vinny McCormack who moved a question on the issue tabled by his absent colleague, Kilbeggan-based Cllr, Liam McDaniel.

Barry Kehoe agreed that this was “the factual situation, there has been no allocation for 2022.”

The third non-statutory public consultation process on the proposed link road was completed last October, following the unveiling of an emerging preferred route corridor.

Five route corridor options were originally considered, and the emerging preferred route (pictured right) is cicrca 8.1km in length and maximises use of existing upgraded sections of the N52, including the Tullamore Bypass at the south and the approach to the M6 junction at the north.

Leaving from Tullamore, the route corridor follows the existing N52 until just north of the L2003 Ballynamona Road, where it diverges to the east. It crosses the L2005 and the L2006 High Road before merging back with the existing N52 again, north of the county boundary in the townland of Curraghglass.

The new link road between Kilbeggan and Tullamore was deemed necessary as a result of the very high volumes of traffic using the N52, at some 14,00 vehicles per day on the busy stretch.

Both Offaly and Westmeath County Councils deemed the new link road to be a priority in order to improve both connectivity and safety on the route.

Funding of some €300,000 to progress the planning and design work on the project was allocated in 2019.

The consultants for the scheme, in conjunction with Transport Infrastructure Ireland, were expected to publish a report on the preferred route option selection in the second quarter of 2022, which would mark the completion of Phase 2 of the scheme (Option Selection).

However, it is now unclear if this report will be published, or when the project can proceed to the next phase.