Frequently Asked Questions

N52 Tullamore to Kilbeggan Link Scheme

The project aims to improve the section of the N52 national route between the Tullamore Bypass and the M6 motorway junction at Kilbeggan. This 8km section of the N52 is currently operating above capacity, with a narrow hard shoulder, along with many private access points and public junctions.

For this Second Public Consultation (Route Corridor Options), an information brochure and questionnaire has been distributed to residents, businesses and landowners throughout the study area and is also available for download on this website (see Public Consultation section). The N52 project team is available to answer any questions and provide information to assist you with your submission.

In compliance with current COVID-19 measures, and to provide access to project information in a safe environment, an online consultation room is available here Visit the Online Consultation Room.

The project team can be contacted during office hours at 01 5239274 (Weekdays 9am-5pm) and at info@n52tullamoretokilbeggan.ie.

If you would like to arrange an online consultation with a member of the project team, please contact us by phone, email, or via the online meeting booking facility. Online meetings will be facilitated during the week of 23rd November – 27th November.

Should the current COVID-19 restrictions be eased during the course of the public consultation period, it may be possible to facilitate ‘in-person’ meetings, by appointment only, at a suitable venue in Tullamore. Strict adherence to COVID-19 guidelines will apply, in order to safeguard the health and safety of the public and staff. Should this be possible, further information will be published on this website.

The N52 Tullamore to Kilbeggan Link Scheme is now at the ‘Option Selection’ phase in accordance with the TII Project Management Guidelines.

Stage 1 of the Option Selection phase, which included a public consultation held from June-July 2020, identified constraints within the study area. The project team then used engineering, environmental and economic criteria to identify feasible Route Corridor Options for the N52 Tullamore to Kilbeggan Link Scheme. View Route Corridor Options Map.

Five Route Corridor Options have now been identified to proceed to Stage 2 of the Option Selection phase.

During this consultation, we are inviting feedback on the Route Corridor Options that could inform the design of the project.

The project team welcomes feedback on any issues or information, relating to the corridors, which you think should be considered by the engineers and environmental consultants in identifying an Emerging Preferred Route.

In compliance with current COVID-19 measures, and to provide access to project information in a safe environment, an online virtual consultation room is available at www.n52tullamoretokilbeggan.ie.

All project information, including an interactive map of the route corridor options and the consultation questionnaire is available to view and submit online.

Once you have viewed the scheme information including the route corridor map, please complete the consultation questionnaire and return it:

All feedback should be returned to the project team by 11th December 2020.

Feedback and submissions received through this consultation will be considered by the project team in Stage 2 of the Option Selection Phase.

As part of Phase 1 Concept & Feasibility, a broad project study area was identified within which the proposed road or alternative could feasibly be located. The first public consultation on the study area and constraints was held in June-July 2020.

As part of Phase 2 Options Selection, the feedback from the initial consultation process has been considered by the project team. Ecological surveys were carried out within the study area from August-September 2020 to enable the identification of habitats, plants and animals. The development of Stage 1 Preliminary Route Corridor Options has progressed during this period with the project team examining engineering, environmental and economic factors.

Five feasible route corridor options have now been identified for the N52 Tullamore-Kilbeggan Link improvement scheme as shown on the route corridor options map.

Taking the consultation feedback into consideration, the Options Selection Phase (Stage 2) will involve a detailed assessment of all five Route Corridor Options, under the following engineering, environmental, social and economic criteria:

  • Economy – to reduce the costs of travel between the endpoints of the scheme at an investment cost that offers good value for money.
  • Safety – to reduce the potential for collisions through provision of a road alignment in accordance with current design standards and to improve safety for all road users
  • Environment – to minimise the environmental impact and the private land take required for the scheme.
  • Accessibility and Social Inclusion – to reduce social exclusion by enhancing accessibility to services from designated rural zones within the study area; and to improve road based public transport by improving journey times and journey time reliability.
  • Integration – to improve the connectivity and route consistency of the national road network in the Midlands and wider area; and
  • Physical Activity – to provide opportunities for pedestrians and cyclists as part of this scheme.

Stage 2 of the Option Selection Phase will identify an Emerging Preferred Route Corridor which will then be published for further public consultation in 2021.

The project is currently at the ‘Option Selection’ phase in accordance with the TII Project Management Guidelines. Landowners whose properties are located within the route corridor options are encouraged to engage with the project team.

It is important to note that the 200m corridor does not represent the actual width of the road scheme or the lands to be acquired – the corridors are route options within which a road scheme could feasibly be developed.

The project team will make every effort to minimise the impact of this improvement scheme on private landholdings. Where it is necessary to acquire lands to accommodate the improvements, the project team will be liaising directly with impacted landowners.

It should be noted that the boundary of a route corridor may be subject to change as the project develops to address any new or previously unidentified constraints emerging during the design process.

Based on the current project programme, it is anticipated that an emerging preferred corridor will be identified in 2021 and will be subject to further consultation. The project team will be contacting all impacted landowners and liaison officers will be appointed to engage directly with landowners.

Offaly County Council and Westmeath County Council Planning Departments have the responsibility for planning and managing development within their respective Counties. New planning applications within the study area may have an impact on the delivery of this project. Planning applications and new developments may still be granted within the study area, however as some planning applications may affect the project. All relevant planning applications will be reviewed by the Project Team. Each application will be considered on a case by case basis.

Previously a Preferred Route Corridor and Route Selection Report were published in 2009, which progressed to draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) in 2011. However, at that time, the scheme was suspended due changes to funding constraints. Since 2011 Changes to environmental legislation, design standards and the public spending code mean it is now necessary to fully re-appraise the project through the TII Project Management Process. All previous studies carried out must now be revisited.

Overall, there is strong support for the project, though, understandably, some people are frustrated at the length of time it has taken. Elected representatives, local residents and commuters have welcomed the recent announcements that funds have been allocated to the project and that a contract has been awarded to bring the proposed scheme, from the Concept and Feasibility study stage through to the Statutory Processes.

In 2019, RPS was appointed by Offaly County Council to deliver the proposed scheme through Phase 1 (Concept and Feasibility), Phase 2 (Option Selection), Phase 3 (Design and Environmental Evaluation) and Phase 4 (Statutory Processes) of TIIs PMG 2019.

The Route Corridor Option (Option 1 – Brown) along the existing N52 is an option which considers a full upgrade scheme utilising the existing road corridor. It should not be confused with an online improvement scheme, which is a ‘do minimum’ approach, only targeting particular safety measures. If Option 1 were to be implemented, it would be required to provide a consistent road carriageway in a similar manner to the other Route Corridor Options, and would need to address all the current safety concerns the are prevalent along the existing road i.e. narrow hard shoulder, with many at-grade junctions and private access points.

The consideration of a Route Corridor Option along the footprint of the existing N52 is in the context of the need for sustainable transport modes, reducing carbon footprint, and ultimately reducing the effect of climate change. We consider that a route corridor which maximises the use of existing infrastructure (in the form of utilising the existing road space), to have significant merit and worthy of further detailed assessment.

The N52 currently operates above capacity, carrying over 14,000 vehicles per day, on a single carriageway with a narrow hard shoulder, including many private access points and public junctions.

The N52 Tullamore to Kilbeggan Road is an important element of Ireland’s National Secondary Route. It links the north-east and the south-west of Ireland, from Ardee in County Louth to Nenagh in County Tipperary and services the towns of Kells, Mullingar, Tyrrellspass, Kilbeggan, Tullamore and Birr.

The new N52 Tullamore to Kilbeggan Link scheme will benefit local people and all road users.

The overall aim of the proposed new scheme is to improve connectivity within The Midlands and address existing operational and safety issues.

The Scheme will:

  • improve the quality of this strategically important road
  • improve connectivity within The Midlands
  • result in shorter and safer car, truck and bus journeys
  • improve safety for pedestrians, cyclists and those living along the route
  • improve road safety and accident reduction

The project is referenced in a number of policy documents including but not limited to Project Ireland 2040 National Planning Framework (2018) and Project Ireland 2040 National Development Plan (2018 – 2027), however the advancement of the project is subject to ongoing funding and statutory approvals.

The TII Project Management Guidelines (PMG) informs the design process.

Offaly County Council and Westmeath County Council Planning Departments have the responsibility for planning and managing development within their respective Counties.  New planning applications within the study area may have an impact on the delivery of this project.  Planning applications and new developments may still be granted within the study area, however as some planning applications may affect the project all relevant planning applications will be reviewed by the Project Team.  Each application will be considered on a case by case basis.

Previously a Preferred Route Corridor and Route Selection Report were published in 2009, which progressed to draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) in 2011. However at that time the scheme was suspended due to funding constraints.    

Recent changes have occurred in relation to-

  • Environmental Legislation
  • Design Standards
  • Requirements of the Department of Public Expenditure & Reform (The Public Spending Code)

Therefore, it is now necessary to fully re-appraise the project through the TII Project Management Process. As a result, all previous work must be revisited.

Investment objectives in road infrastructure have been outlined in the National Development Plan 2018-2027 as follows:

  • Increased Investment in Roads Programmes; and
  • Investment in national, regional and local road infrastructure will be delivered in accordance with the NPF.

It will be guided by the findings of the Department of Tourism, Transport and Sport’s Strategic Investment Framework for Land Transport (SIFLT) analysis:

  • Roads will be maintained to a high quality;
  • Roads will be improved to reduce journey times, remove bottlenecks and improve safety; and
  • New roads will be built to connect communities and encourage economic activity.

Objectives for individual road schemes should be a local implementation of the Government’s overarching transport objectives (Environment, Economy, Safety, Integration, Accessibility and Physical Activity) as set out in the Common Appraisal Framework (CAF).

Initial objectives for the N52 Tullamore to Kilbeggan Link Scheme are as below. It should be noted these may evolve as the scheme is developed.

Economy:

  • To reduce the costs of travel between the endpoints of the scheme at an investment cost that offers good value for money.

Safety:

In order to reduce the potential for collisions through provision of a road alignment in accordance with current design standards this scheme will seek to:

  • Provide safe overtaking opportunities for motorists along the route in accordance with design standards;
  • Reduce the frequency and severity of collisions by providing a safer route for all users;
  • Reduce junction numbers and conflict points for N52 traffic;
  • To improve safety for vulnerable road users and provide better environment for vulnerable road users within the study area; and
  • Support the RSA Road Safety Strategy 2013-2020.

Integration:

  • To improve the connectivity and route consistency of the national road network;
  • To be compatible with land use objectives as set out in regional and local land use plans; and
  • To improve transport links between the North of Ireland and linking the Midlands.

Environment:

  • Minimise the environmental impact and the private land take required for the scheme.

Accessibility and Social Inclusion:

  • To reduce social exclusion by enhancing accessibility to services from designated rural zones within the study area; and
  • To improve road based public transport by improving journey times and journey time reliability.

Physical Activity:

  • Provide opportunities for pedestrians and cyclists as part of this scheme.