After being suspended for almost two years, the N2 Clontibret to Border Road Scheme has secured EU and Department of Transport funding and is now back up and running.
The N2 Clontibret to Border project is a 28km road scheme which will upgrade this section of the N2 Dublin-Derry Road to make it safer, reduce journey times, and to bypass towns and villages along the route. It is an important project to enhance key North/South and Regional connectivity. At the Northern Ireland border, the project will tie-in to the A5 Western Transport Corridor, which proposes to upgrade 85km of the Dublin-Derry Road to a dual carriageway standard in Northern Ireland.
The project first commenced in 2008, but was suspended in 2012 due to a lack of funding during the economic downturn. Funding then became available in 2018 to progress the planning and design of the scheme again, however due to changes in environmental legislation, design standards and the Public Spending Code it was necessary undertake all stages of the planning and design process again.
Jacobs Engineering Ireland (Jacobs) was appointed as the engineering consultant for the project, and in late 2018 they started the design of the project, following a framework set out by Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) called the ‘Project Management Guidelines’. The guidelines break the design of major road projects into phases, and by early 2021 Phase 1 and 2 of the design process were complete, and a 400m wide Preferred Route Corridor was published. The project proposes a new road alignment, which will bypass Monaghan Town, Emyvale Village and the settlement of Corracrin. In the early stages the cross-section design was anticipated to be a dual-carriageway, however this has yet to be confirmed through the design process.
The Phase 3 design process (Design & Environmental Evaluation), commenced in Spring 2021. This phase of the design process would have seen the road alignment designed, the landtake identified and an Environmental Impact Assessment Report prepared for the scheme, and was scheduled for completion in late 2022. The 2022 TII allocations noted ‘There is a need to balance available funding across the national road’s programmes, projects and operations having regard to the NDP. The rate of progress on the delivery of Major Projects is dependent on the availability of funding resources on a multi-annual basis….’, and the scheme received no funding to progress the design in 2022 and 2023. This resulted in a suspension of the project, and no design work has taken place since the early 2022.
The project remains a priority for Monaghan County Council, and alternative sources of funding have been explored. In January 2023 the Council made an application to a European Union fund called the ‘Connecting Europe Facility’ (CEF), which aims to promote growth, jobs and competitiveness through targeted infrastructure investment. The project passed the evaluation stage in June 2023, and in October 2023, CEF funding of €2.335m was approved through the fund, with match funding to be provided by the Department of Transport. This will allow the Phase 3 design process to recommence, and subject to match funding should ensure the Phase 3 design is completed.
Jacobs continue to be the engineering consultant, and the Jacobs team will remobilise in the coming weeks to recommence the Phase 3 design process. Due to the time that has lapsed since the project was suspended, Jacobs may need to review or repeat some previous work, for example environmental surveys may need to be updated. The project team will be in contact with landowners along the route to request access to lands for these surveys.
Another important element of the design work is undertaking ground investigation. Ground investigation provides important information about whether land can support a new road or bridges, or whether rock or stone can be used as building materials for the new road. As ground investigations typically involve some element of disturbance, landowners are entitled to compensation payments, in line with rates agreed between TII and the Irish Farmers’ Association. The project team will be in contact with relevant landowners in Spring 2024, and will provide details of any ground investigation proposed and the likely compensation payment that might be due.
After the N2 Project Team has substantially completed the necessary surveys/investigations, they will prepare an initial design of the proposed road and will be in a position to meet with directly affected landowners to discuss the potential impact of the scheme. Feedback will then be considered before a design is finalised. Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) documentation and an Environmental Impact Assessment Report (EIAR) can then be completed – it is expected that this element of the project will be complete by Q4 2025. Subject to further funding, approval and Government consent, the project could then be submitted to An Bord Pleanála as part of the statutory approval process.
Monaghan County Council and Jacobs would like to thank all of the landowners and stakeholders along the route for their co-operation to date, and the project team is looking forward to recommencing and progressing this important infrastructural project. Over the coming months more updates and news about the project can be found on www.N2MonaghanLouth.ie