The new €18.7m N56 Coolboy to Kilmacrennan Scheme was officially opened yesterday by Minister for Education and Skills, Joe McHugh T.D., and Cathaoirleach of Donegal County Council Cllr. Nicholas Crossan.
The 3.1km scheme, which has seen the removal of the notorious ‘Blue Banks’ bends, is a key transport corridor to the north west of Donegal including Glenveagh National Park, Donegal Airport and the Gaeltacht.
Cllr. Crossan explains “alongside the new road, a 2 metre shared footway/cycle track has been created on both sides of the road and it is hoped that this new shared track will be extended to Letterkenny. This is a major infrastructural project and is of significant benefit and value not only to the local community in terms of improving safety and connectivity but also to the entire county and region.
“This project provides an important strategic link to north west Donegal providing access to the Wild Atlantic Way as well as significantly improving access for businesses and investors. The creation of the shared footway and cycle track is an excellent addition to the scheme and the value of this type of amenity, not only for the local community but as an attraction for visitors, cannot be over-estimated”.
Director of Roads and Transportation with Donegal County Council John McLaughlin explains that “the delivery of this scheme is the culmination of over 8 years work by the Donegal National Roads Office and is a continuation of the N56 Mountaintop to Illistrin project completed in 2009.
“The original road had a narrow carriage way, no significant verge and a number of poorly aligned junctions, accesses and entrances. The new scheme involved the widening and realignment to a 7 metre carriageway with hard strips and verges. A shared footway/cycle track on both sides of the new road caters for all vulnerable road users, cyclist and pedestrians and is a significant new local amenity.”
Mayor of Letterkenny MD Cllr. John O’Donnell acknowledged the importance of this project in delivering on the economic development agenda for the county and paid tribute to the support and co-operation of the local community saying “development of major infrastructure projects such as this can be a long process.
“Individuals and communities are always affected by the disruption caused and I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the support and co-operation of local residents, businesses and motorists in the development and delivery of this scheme. I look forward to having the next phase of this project from Doonwell to Leitirfad in Termon prioritised.”
“This project represents an investment of over €18m” says Seamus Neely speaking at Monday’s launch. “Since this road opened in May, road users have seen a major improvement and traffic can now flow freely and safely. It is the third section of this important stretch of road to be completed in the last 10 years starting from the outskirts of Letterkenny at the Mountaintop and now finishing in KIlmacrennan. This is a major piece of infrastructure for Donegal and will go a long way in enabling the county to capitalize on opportunities such as the continued development of tourism, supporting business development and job creation.”
Seamus Neely also acknowledged the strong collaborative working arrangement in place with Irish Water in the delivery of this project. Irish Water constructed a new trunk watermain and distributor water mains serving Letterkenny and its environs adjacent to and along the N56.
Works on this scheme commenced in January 2018 and took 18 months to complete. BAM Civils Ltd. were the main contractor, RPS Consulting Engineers were the Designer and construction works were supervised on behalf of Donegal County Council by Barry Transportation. The Project was managed on behalf of Donegal County Council by the National Roads Office in Donegal Town.
Rev Cannon Harry Gilmore and Rev Patrick Dunne were also present at the official opening of the road along with representatives from Transport Infrastructure Ireland and Irish Water.