County Councillor Tomás Sharkey has expressed his concern at the delay in a decision on the N53 Rassan to Hackballscross scheme.
“This stretch of the Castleblayney Road is the last piece of the jigsaw to upgrade a dangerous and busy road from Dundalk to the Armagh border. I have been raising this matter since 2003 and am anxious that we complete the final phase.
“A number of residents and landowners made observations on the proposed route. It then went to an oral hearing of An Bord Pleanála. That hearing was in January 2023 but the board has not issued its decision yet.
“This delay puts the project in danger. Council staff and elected members have worked hard to ensure Transport Infrastructure Ireland keeps the project in its spending plans. But a delay in the decision means costs may have to be revised.
“I hope that An Bord Pleanála issues their decision quickly so we can all see this important project finished. In the meantime, we have a job to do to ensure authorities in the north reciprocate our work in the southern end of the road. The N53 travels through county Armagh on its way to Monaghan. That part of the road now needs to be placed high on the agenda for politicians in Stormont.”
In response to Cllr. Sharkey’s concerns Louth County Council said that they were still awaiting the outcome of a hearing from An Bord Pleanála.
“The Oral Hearing was held by An Bord Pleanála (ABP) regarding the CPO process on the 10th of January. LCC still awaits the outcome of this hearing from ABP. The inspector’s report has been completed and is currently awaiting the Board decision. In order to progress a decision on the CPO, LCC have written to ABP stressing that the route has an high accident rate, the funding commitments from TII, anxious of landowners and LCC to have a decision on the CPO order. In the mean time the design team continues to engage with the landowners, their agents and other stakeholders. A technical acceptance report has been prepared for structures and submission to TII. Ground Investigations tender and archaeological test trenching package is currently being prepared for field work and testing,” concluded the statement.