Relief road is opened after delays

 

The £2 million Neil T. Blaney relief road from the Port Bridge to Pearse Road in Letterkenny opened to traffic on Wednesday afternoon.

The opening marked the latest phase in the long-running and often controversial saga of the road, which was first mooted in the town Development Plan of 1979.

Construction and land-acquisition difficulties have beset the project since the route for the one-mile stretch was first adopted by Letterkenny Urban District Council in December 1995. Works started in 1996 with a grant of £70,000, and in the intervening five-year period £2 million has been spent.

While the project has been the subject of much public comment in the local media and criticism from UDC members in relation to its planning and management, the Donegal county manager, Mr Michael McLoone, said last week he had received no evidence of mismanagement or malpractice in relation to cost control.

The road is expected to greatly relieve traffic congestion on the main Derry road approach into Letterkenny. The junctions of the new road with existing roads will take the form of roundabouts. A small four-exit roundabout at the junction of Canal Road, Pearse Road and Rosemount Lane is substantially complete.

A new roundabout at the Port Bridge will also have four exits incorporating the junction of the Milford (Ramelton) road (R245) with the Derry road (N14) as well as the junction of the new inner-relief road with the Derry road. This, however, has not been completed because of a High Court action being taken by a local company against the compulsory purchase order.

Traders in Letterkenny are bracing themselves for the last-minute rush in sales after what has been described as a record-breaking Christmas.

Stores in some of the main towns such as Letterkenny have reported an increase in business of up to 20 per cent on last year.

Shoppers coming out of the North to Donegal are being allowed between 25p and 30p on £1 sterling for their purchases. Northerners can also save up to £12 to £15 on a full tank of fuel.

Mr Gerard McCormick, chairman of the Retail Committee with Letterkenny Chamber of Commerce, said it had been a fantastic Christmas for businesses in the town.

"We are looking at an increase of around 20 per cent on business from last year. The strength of sterling along with the boom in the economy are the main factors for the increase, but Letterkenny is a vibrant centre, and there are a lot more retail outlets coming on stream all the time in the town," he said.

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