There was good news for the people of north west Kildare with the announcement that €26 million has been allocated for the update of the R402 road that runs from Edenderry to Enfield.
While both of those towns are outside Kildare, the road will pass through 12 kilometres of rural Kildare, which, like Edenderry and much of the eastern side of Offaly, has suffered considerably from a degree of isolation, and difficulty in accessing the N4/M4 at Enfield.
There has been a campaign by locals in Edenderry for more than a decade to see the road progress. And this was given a boost when Brian Cowen became first Minister for Finance, and then Taoiseach.
But with the loss of his position and the downturn in the economy there were fears that the project could disappear off the agenda.
Over the years, funding in the order of €10 million, which were required to progress the road through the planning stages followed by the acquisition of land from farmers, were made available. But until recently there was no certainty that funding to complete the project would be made available.
Early last year, Council officials reported that the National Roads Authority was encouraging the Council to proceed with the land acquisition process, which seemed to suggest that they, at least, were confident funding will come through.
This latest announcement finally ends all the uncertainty.
Planning for the road upgrade started in 2001 and it is expected to be completed by 2014.
“Anybody who travels along this road will know how sub-standard it is,” Deputy Emmet Stagg noted following the announcement last Friday.
Former property developer and former town and county councillor Ger Killally once told this reporter that he had counted 71 bends on the 12 kilometre route.
“In the past 20 years there have been six fatalities on the road, 13 serious accidents, 31 minor accidents and 61 material damage accidents,” Deputy Stagg explained. “4,850 vehicles use that road daily, of which 5% are HGV`s.
“The improvements will also allow for future anticipated growth in traffic levels.” The route of the upgraded road also allows for the by-passing of the villages of Carbury and Thomastown thus improving safety and the quality of life for residents in these villages. The estimated construction time is 24 months.
With €10 million already spent, it is expected that €14 million will be spent in 2012, €13 million in 2013 and €2 million in 2014.