Glen of the Downs tunnel an option for N11 upgrade

Engineers have scrapped plans to bring the upgraded road via Delgany Golf Club and close to the village, writes Mary Fogarty



Glen of the Downs
Gallery 1
Glen of the Downs

A tunnel under the existing road at Glen of the Downs is being considered as an option for upgrading the N11/M11.

The scheme could take up to 10 years to implement, and funding for construction has not been secured at this stage.

Under initial proposals to develop the N11/M11 two corridors had been considered that would have run close to Delgany village.

Transport Infrastructure Ireland announced last week that all of the routes except for the 'cyan' option to the west of the Glen of the Downs have now been ruled out.

Engineers working on the project are also still considering a tunnel under the Glen of the Downs, the 'red' route.

They said an interim bus corridor could be introduced before the final project is completed. T

The retained cyan route runs in parallel to the N11 from Kilpeddar to Kilmacanogue.

All route options were put out for public consultation last November.

In February, a planning application for shops a restaurant and apartments in Kilmacanogue village was refused because the site is within the study area for the N11/M11 improvement scheme.

The developers said they will factor in engineering requirements, environmental impact and economic impact when making their route selection.

A final decision is expected to be made in the summer.

Campaigners from the Glen of the Downs area have said that the proposed cyan route winds through an area of ancient archaeological significance, including monuments, a hill fort, and some believe the ancient royal highway and meeting place of the Uí Brhroin Chualann.

Their preference would be for a tunnel.

Deputy Jennifer Whitmore said that the government must commit to funding for the remaining phases of the scheme. 'It has been made clear that funding has only been committed for phases one to four without any commitment from Government for the remaining phases,' said Deputy Whitmore.

'Phase four will bring it up to the planning stage but not the actual development of the upgrade scheme. I believe it is vital that Government ensure that funding has been identified for the construction of the scheme. What we don't want is another plan that just sits on the shelf somewhere without being implemented. It is positive that those residents living adjacent to the other route options identified late last year are now no longer in limbo, which I welcome,' she said.

'There is little point in just widening roads and adding more lanes without making them public transport only. It has been demonstrated all over the world that new roads will just fill with new cars. It does not solve the problem. The only sustainable solution is to ensure that bus and carpooling lanes are provided, with park 'n rides at junctions along the route which I hope will be considered as part of this scheme,' said Deputy Whitmore.

'I'm delighted to see the two proposed routes through Delgany which caused a lot of distress to local people have been ruled out,' said Minister Stephen Donnelly. 'It's great to get some clarity for people in those areas so they can now get on with their lives.

'But I'm not convinced a tunnel under the Glen of the Downs is a feasible idea or wouldn't generate a lot of local opposition. We need to be looking at how to introduce bus corridors and park and rides to get more people out of their cars to reduce the gridlock on the N11. In addition, thought needs to be given to make sure other road users like cyclists are protected on the route.'

'I received considerable feedback from Wicklow residents that the cyan route would impact on the Sugarloaf amenity and habitats and I have made clear to the project team that the construction of severe embankments and gulleys here to facilitate a new motorway would have a terrible impact on biodiversity and habitats in this area of special conservation,' said Minister Simon Harris. 'Unlike 20 years ago when the N11/M11 was first upgraded we now live in an era where public transport is afforded greater priority and the reduction of carbon emissions is now an urgent objective of all policy,' he said. The overwhelming feedback from commuters during the 2019 public consultation was for a greater emphasis to be placed on public transport provision along the M11/N11 corridor to reduce as much as possible the volume of single occupancy cars travelling to Dublin daily. 'There is now the largest ever budget for cycling and pedestrian facilities and major projects such as the N11/M11 upgrade need to reflect this change of thinking,' said Minister Harris.

The next stage of the project will involve identification of park and ride and public transport priority. The project team have also said they are working with the NTA to see what public transport priority and improvements can be made in advance of the upgrade.

Cllr Gerry Walsh said he has serious concerns about the cyan route. 'I welcome the clarity we now have but I would have some concerns about the impact the retained cyan route would have on dividing local communities as well as its environmental impact,' said Cllr Gerry Walsh. 'Also, we need to be cognisant of how long this project is going to take to deliver because the people of Wicklow can't wait years for these road improvements.'

'I welcome the news that many of the most environmentally damaging aspects of the original improvement scheme options have been discounted by the TII and Wicklow County Council,' said Cllr Joe Behan. 'We need urgent action on park and ride and bus priority schemes for existing users,' he said. This is because there will be long delays in the construction of road capacity improvements because of Covid.

'It is essential that this scheme is prioritised by the Government now,' said Cllr Behan. 'I sincerely hope it will not be delayed any longer as a result of the Green Transport Minister's threat in the last Dáil to block funding for this vital project for the commuters of County Wicklow.'

In November 2019, as public consultation was under way, Green Party leader Eamon Ryan indicated that his party would shelve such plans if they were in government.

Wicklow County Council Chief Executive Frank Curran said in March that the N11 was included in the National Development Plan as a scheme that would move to design phase between now and 2027. He said 'we don't want to delay it because we are in with a chance of it progressing... we want to stay in that category and complete the design work.' To contact the project team go to

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