Transport Minister Eamon Ryan has been told to urgently progress national road projects by Fine Gael TDs and Senators.
Longford Senator Micheál Carrigy, who organised today’s meeting, said the Minister heard clarity is required on stalled projects around the country.
The meeting also heard a commitment to expand Local Link services nationally and to use them to assist with school transport issues.
Senator Carrigy said: “We had a constructive meeting with Minister Ryan this afternoon on a number of vital road projects that are not progressing. He was left in no doubt about what we require to ensure connectivity, jobs and investment across the country.
“If Government is to deliver balanced regional development; businesses, residents and other stakeholders must have clarity that construction will proceed to ensure they have accessibility and are well positioned to prosper economically.
“In my own area, I demanded clarity on when work would begin on a 50km stretch of the N4 between the busy towns of Mullingar and Longford, raising serious road safety and commercial concerns.
“The time for kicking the tyres on this project is well and truly up. We need investment from the Minister now to set the wheels in motion.
“The longer we wait, the more the region is being closed off from the capital. Funding is required to get this long-awaited work to planning permission stage and get construction underway.
“This afternoon I impressed yet again upon the Minister the urgent need to address the road safety concerns which has caused a high number of fatalities and a significant number of accidents on this section of road over the past 20 years.
“It makes absolutely no sense to have a dual carriageway that ends abruptly just outside Mullingar when traffic volumes are equally heavy continuing along the same road to Longford and beyond to the North-West.
“I have also met with various chambers of commerce, businesses and other stakeholders in the North-West who have expressed concern that a lack of investment in road projects has the potential to damage economic expansion in the region.
“I want my children to live and work in rural Ireland. We want to drive investment and jobs in Longford and the North-West region with an improved N4 route.”
Senator Carrigy said: “Overall it was a constructive meeting. I was pleased to hear Minister Ryan commending local link services across the country and he gave us a strong commitment to increasing them and examining their use for school transport.
“He also said he would work with the Education Minister to look at using local link services to end the plight for many families who cannot access school buses.
“Currently Bus Éireann does not allow qualified drivers aged over 70 operate school buses on their buses or via contractors. This is farcical. Fully qualified and experienced people should be utilised to help school routes.
“Parents working full time for their families and their children are being left on the side of the road, this cannot continue,” Senator Carrigy concluded.