The new N52 Ardee Bypass must not cut off members of the community to the north west of the town, local residents have urged.
With work set to start on the project this year, locals are concerned that current plans show proposed cul-de-sacs on the Townspark Road and Mullanstown Road, cutting off connectivity from the town centre to places like Ardee Celtic FC and Ardee Coach Trim.
In a detailed presentation given to local councillors at last week’s Ardee Municipal District monthly meeting, locals Fergal Finn and Anne Lennon spoke on how current plans for the long awaited bypass will leave rural areas – and walkers and cyclists – cut off from the town.
They say the original design – having first been granted planning permission back in 2006 – was no longer fit for purpose. However, they made it clear they merely wanted the plans for the N52 bypass amended, not delayed or stopped completely.
According to the locals, a trip to or from – the football grounds and the town centre will be 9.6km in distance with the installation of the cul-de-sacs as part of the bypass.
“It’s a good news story, but I was horrified when I saw the cul-de-sac,” Anne said. “Money could be a block currently, but if it keeps the connectivity between Ardee and the community in the future.
“We don’t want to stop it,” Fergal Finn said. “But we feel it impacts us in the community. We are representing the community. This is one of a consensus, not of anonymity.”
According to a road traffic survey commissioned by the residents, an average of 1,748 vehicles travel along the two roads per day. The survey was conducted in mid-June, after the secondary schools had closed and during the soccer off-season – indicting even higher numbers between September and May.
Mrs Lennon argued that school bus routes, as well as the Ardee Day Care Centre bus service, could end up being lost to the area were the current plans to go-ahead.
“We’re not going to get everything we want but if we can keep the roads open, fluid and operational – that would be the priority,” she added.
The meeting heard that Westmeath County Council are technical officers in charge of designing the road. It is understood that any changes to the plan would result in a new Part 8, which could take three months to complete.
Mr Finn, Mrs Lennon and other community members are meeting with Minister for Transport Shane Ross this week to further discuss the issues raised by the new bypass.
However, Mr Finn warned that should an agreement not be reached between Louth County Council, Westmeath County Council and other stakeholders, Transport Infrastructure Ireland could “shelve the project and move onto the next town.”
Ardee Municipal District cathoairleach Pease McGeough said, “Hopefully, there’ll be a sensible solution and that no section of the community of Ardee sees their connection decimated.”