Transport Minister Eamon Ryan has been urged to allow the much-needed upgrade of the N17 between Ireland West Airport and Sligo to go ahead.
Fears have been raised after Minister Ryan announced that funding would not be available for some time for the €600m upgrade.
The Sligo Chamber of Commerce, one of the biggest business organisations in the North West, said that shelving this project would be a monumental failure of Government responsibility towards the Western and North Western Atlantic seaboard.
Sligo Chamber CEO Aidan Doyle, said the N17 is currently unsafe, unsuitable for the huge volume of traffic using it and in dire need of State intervention to support a long-planned for €600 million transformation.
Aidan Doyle said: “A decision to delay this project would be astonishing and not grounded in reality. The Government has for many years been promising our businesses and policy makers a vibrant Atlantic Economic Corridor, its own initiative to encourage investment in the West and North West of Ireland.
“Minister Ryan’s own Government colleagues identified the N17 in the National Development Plan as a key project to improve accessibility to the northwest and achieve the national strategic outcome of enhanced regional accessibility and compact growth in addressing regional imbalance.
“That’s why any failure by Minister Ryan to allow the upgrade of this project would be highly damaging for this region. The project plans for the revitalisation of a legacy section of the N17 network which is no longer fit for purpose.
“It is needed to improve regional accessibility, facilitate economic development, introduce active travel facilities, improve public transport, and provide a safe and efficient network constructed to modern standards.
“This section of the N17 will boost the region by delivering 55km of modern carriageway, sustainably reusing up to 40% of the existing N17 road in the process. It is needed to ensure the road is safer, removing heavy goods vehicles and traffic from villages and to protect pedestrians.
“The project must be funded or, once again, the North West of Ireland will be left behind. We call on the Government to show its commitment to, and understanding of, the important strategic priorities for our region of which the N17 is paramount.
“Sligo Chamber of Commerce would welcome a meeting with Minister Ryan so he can hear our members’ views. The project is not a luxury – it is essential, and we urge him to sanction, without delay, the upgrade of the N17.”