Ballina, Foxford & Swinford will lose out if new road plan proceeds in current form

N26THE Emerging Preferred Route Corridor which has been identified for the N5, N26 and N58 will result in a downgrading in status and priority for the N26 and spells bad news for Ballina, Foxford and Swinford.

That’s the view of Fianna Fáil TD Dara Calleary who warns that the proposed route will have a negative impact of the future economic and social development of all three towns.

“While I welcome progress on this project and in particular the planned upgrade of the N58 (Foxford-Castlebar road), I am seriously concerned that the preferred route will result in a downgrading of the N26, if not in designation, certainly in status and in priority,” he said.

“The N26 is the main National Primary Route linking North Mayo to the N5 which is the main National Primary Route linking Mayo to Dublin.

“It should be a stated priority of this project that the N26 be upgraded in line with its designation and its importance to economic and social development and progression in Ballina, Foxford, Swinford and their environs.

“The decision not to bypass Foxford and Swinford contradicts two stated Project Objectives, one of which is to improve the environment of existing towns and villages such as Foxford and Swinford, and another which aspires to reduce journey times between Swinford, Foxford and Ballina.

“However with Heavy Goods Vehicles continuing to travel through Foxford and Swinford Town Centres on a daily basis, these objectives simply cannot be achieved.

“There is no added value to either Foxford or Swinford from HGV traffic going through them. Indeed, without such Heavy Goods Vehicle traffic, the two towns could enhance their attractiveness as retail, service & tourism destinations. In that context I also note that the proposed upgraded N58 will have no junction access to Foxford town bar the proposed roundabout beyond Belass. A junction that will allow traffic to access Foxford town centre from the N58 should be built.

“There can be no doubt that the proposed decision not to bypass Foxford and Swinford will also place Ballina at a disadvantage because it means that the North Mayo capital will not have a direct link to the N5. This is against the spirt of Project Objective number 6, which is to support and enhance the economic performance of Ballina as well as that of Castlebar. Ballina will be placed at a disadvantage to Castlebar & Westport by been the only town of the three not to have such a direct link.

“There is also very little detail provided on what would be involved in the upgrade of the existing N26.”

“Ballina and North Mayo in general have waited very patiently for the commencement of Phase 2 of the N26 and it would be neglectful now to pursue a Preferred Route that clearly places the area at a huge disadvantage in economic and social terms.

“I have made a submission to the Project Engineer and urge him and his team to reconsider their options so that the N26 and Ballina and North-East Mayo receive equality of status and priority.”