The Castlecomer Road roundabout section of the ring road, from which the northern section would extend
The wait for Kilkenny's long-awaited northern ring road extension looks set to continue, with the project facing a further bureaucratic hurdle to navigate.
The Government's revised Public Spending Code means a Strategic Assessment Report (SAR) must be submitted for the project because it will cost more than €10 million. That SAR must then be signed off on by the Department of Transport.
Local TD John Paul Phelan last month sought an update from the Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan on the status of the project - to construct a northern bridge and road infrastructure in Kilkenny City linking the N77 to the R693. Deputy Phelan asked in written answers as part of a Dail debate on roads projects, and he reminded Minister Ryan the project was 'a long-standing priority for the local authority and TII'.
Responding, the Green Party leader said the improvement and maintenance of regional and local roads is the statutory responsibility of each local authority in accordance with the provisions of Section 13 of the Roads Act 1993. Works on those roads are funded from local authorities' own resources supplemented by State road grants. The initial selection and prioritisation of works to be funded is also a matter for the council.
"Any projects proposed by local authorities for consideration under the Strategic Grant Programme are assessed by the Department on a case-by-case basis," said Minister Ryan.
"All projects put forward by local authorities for consideration must comply with the requirements of the Public Spending Code and my Department's Capital Appraisal Framework. Given the limited funding available for regional and local road improvement works it is important for local authorities to prioritise projects within their overall area of responsibility with these requirements in mind.
"As required under the project appraisal guidelines, a preliminary appraisal was submitted by Kilkenny County Council in December 2019. However, the revised Public Spending Code requires a Strategic Assessment Report (SAR) for all projects with an estimated expenditure of €10 million or more. The SAR is now a key deliverable at the first decision stage in the project appraisal process. Once completed, a SAR needs Departmental approval."
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