PLANS to improve traffic flow on one of the country’s busiest roads would close 25 intersections, connecting lanes and exit points.
Yesterday, icklow County Council gave in to pressure to extend the consultation period on the N11 / M11 plan, fearing that there was little public awareness of what was being proposed or its implications.
The deadline for submitting proposals was next Monday, after a three-week consultation period, but members of the public said they were having difficulty with the maps and drawings online they were supposed to view.
This is the last public consultation on the proposals before they move to the planning request stage in early 2023.
Jennifer Whitmore, TD of the Social Democrats for Wicklow, said she requested one of the one-on-one meetings with the project managers, but got a slot on Friday, leaving him only the weekend to prepare a quote.
She asked Wicklow County Council to extend the deadline and organize a series of public information sessions, online or otherwise, to guide people through the proposed changes.
Her requests were turned down earlier this week, but management changed their mind yesterday and extended the submission deadline to October 4.
“The extension will ensure that all members of the public and interested parties will have the opportunity to engage in the process and make submissions,” a council statement said.
He does not plan to hold briefings but urged people to research any additional meetings that would be available throughout the fortnight or to contact the project team by phone with any questions.
Ms Whitmore said the management of the consultation was a source of concern.
“It undermines public confidence when a major project is being planned and they face obstacles in providing feedback,” she said.
“We have obligations under the Aarhus Convention to ensure that people have full access to environmental information and it is difficult to see how this process fulfilled these obligations. “
Plans to upgrade the congested 22km stretch of the N11 / M11 from Ashford in County Wicklow to Loughlinstown in southern County Dublin were first announced in 2018.
Various options have since been ruled out, including one that would have halved a golf club’s courses, one that would have involved extensive tunnels and one that would have encroached on the Glen of the Downs protected nature reserve.
The preferred option on which bids are currently being solicited uses the existing route but closes 25 access points to prevent traffic on and off the dual carriageway.
Some points serve only one property but others, such as exit 10, serve the growing village of Delgany.
Alternative access arrangements, parallel roads for local access, and walking and cycling routes are all offered alongside the closures, but details are not yet available. Increased bus services along the route are also offered.
Christopher Bradish, liaison with project managers, Arup, said full details would be available at the design stage, which would take the whole of next year.
“We will continue to consult with all affected landowners throughout the next year and update our online postings to keep the public informed of progress,” he said.