Fury as bypass put on hold despite grim toll of 22 deaths
RESIDENTS are furious that plans for a bypass of Slane have been suspended despite 22 people having lost their lives on a horrific 'bottleneck stretch of road'.
The Irish Independent revealed yesterday that a €50m project to bypass the Co Meath village would be suspended for at least three years due to government cutbacks.
The project is currently before An Bord Pleanala which is expected to deliver its ruling before the end of the year.
Concerned residents yesterday said it was "devastating" to abandon the project at this stage.
Niamh O'Broin, a local mother of two young children, said safety and preventing deaths is the sole reason for the bypass.
"When people talk about this bypass, it is not about how many minutes you can save on your journey from Dublin to Derry. It is synonymous with safety and saving lives, not shaving off minutes in the car."
The road through the village is particularly dangerous as it has steep inclines on both sides of the River Boyne with a sharp turn on to the bridge in between.
Ms O'Broin was involved in a serious accident in March 2009 when a heavy goods vehicle lost control on the top of the hill, causing a nine-car pile-up.
"The problems in the village have not gone away despite the 30km speed limit," she warned.
Michele Power, a spokeswoman for the Slane Bridge Action Group, said it would be "devastating" to have the plans shelved, adding, "it would be pennywise and pound foolish with people's lives".
Fianna Fail councillor Wayne Harding said it was extraordinary that local Fine Gael TD and Minister of State for Agriculture Shane McEntee, had joined residents on numerous marches demanding a bypass, yet was now part of an administration calling a halt to the project.
"If this administration shelves this project, there is every possibility they will end up with blood on their hands," he warned.
However, Mr McEntee yesterday insisted there was "no change" in the position of the proposed bypass.
In a statement, Mr McEntee said the bypass would still be brought through An Bord Pleanala and, if approved, lands would be bought, bringing the project to "shovel ready" status.
However, he failed to mention that the project would then be suspended along with dozens of others until funds become available, something Transport Minister Leo Varadkar has already confirmed.
Based on current plans, no new road projects will be started between 2012 and 2014.
The Slane bypass, a 3.5km stretch of dual carriageway, is estimated to cost up to €50m.