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What are the chances of the Adare bypass being built anytime soon? (Hint: Not great)

The saga of the planned bypass is almost as long as the tailbacks that dog for the scenic Limerick village on bank holiday weekends.

AS ANYONE WHO’s ever attempted to drive through Adare in Co Limerick on a bank holiday weekend will attest, it’s known to be one of the worst bottlenecks in the country — with two mile tailbacks from the south not an uncommon sight as people head back from breaks in West Kerry.

The saga of a proposed bypass for the popular tourist village has been a long one. And given what Transport Minister Leo Varadkar had to say on the issue this afternoon, it’s not one that’s likely to end anytime soon.

An Bord Pleanala rejected an application to build the bypass along a selected ‘Southern Route’ in October 2012, on the grounds that it constituted “isolated infrastructure” and didn’t fit in with any wider plans for the national road network.

Efforts to restart the project have been ongoing since then, with Varadkar attending a meeting with local TDs, Limerick County Council and the NRA late last year to examine a potential way forward.

However, the issue is complicated by the fact that the local authority has also tasked engineers with examining options for connecting the port of Foynes to the wider road network.

Foynes (in the top-left of this map), Adare, Limerick and the surrounding road network [Google Maps]

Addressing a question on the issue from Limerick Fine Gael TD Dan Neville this afternoon, Vardkar said that while he was “very concerned” about the situation in Adare, there wasn’t much that could be done until the end of the year at the earliest, when the report on the potential Foynes route is due to be completed.

“At that point I will be able to strongly encouraging the NRA to proceed with planning, so that if funding does become available we’ll be ready to go,” Varadkar said.

He also stressed the need for the NRA to be able to engage with An Bord Pleanala before handing in a formal application, so that any issues with the plans being drawn up could be flagged. Varadkar said he was considering an amendment to the Roads Bill which would formalise the process.

In short — even though there is a chance that the planning process for a bypass could get under way again at some state next year, its unlikely there’ll be enough cash to spare to actually built the thing for quite some time after that.

As the Minister pointed out, the current budget allocation for the NRA for improvement and maintenance works this year is only €371 million — on a par with the figure for 1998…

It’s not possible to progress a variety of very worthwhile projects, including Adare, and the main focus has to be on the maintenance and repair of roads. This will remain the position in the coming years.

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