Funding of N17 upgrade is critical for the future of the North West region, say Sligo Chamber and Ireland West Airport

Sligo Chamber of Commerce and Ireland West Airport Knock have jointly called on the Government to fund the upgrade of the N17 between Collooney and Ireland West Airport.

Failure to do so, they say, would represent a significant failure to honour repeated promises to advance economic development and make Sligo a compact growth centre.

In 2021, the National Development Plan was published and identified 55km of new high-standard dual-carriageway between Collooney and Ireland West Airpot Knock.

The road is essential for the economic development of counties including Sligo and Mayo and all along the Western and North Western Atlantic seaboard.

However, it has become unsafe, unsuitable for the traffic using it and in dire need of State intervention to support a long-planned transformation.

Commenting, Sligo Chamber CEO Aidan Doyle, whose organisation represents more than 300 businesses including multi-national companies, said the N17 was the main artery and regional link connecting Galway to Ireland West Airport and Sligo. 

He said: We have a simple message for the Government – fund the N17 upgrade now. The people of this region are not looking for a new road but one that is wider, smarter, safer, and designed to meet today’s needs – not yesterday’s.

“The improvements are needed to improve regional accessibility, facilitate economic development, introduce active travel facilities, improve public transport, and provide a safe and efficient network constructed to modern standards.

“The N17 was identified the N17 in the National Development Plan as a key project to improve accessibility to the northwest and achieve the national strategic outcome of enhanced regional accessibility and compact growth for Sligo.

“Failure to move ahead with this project would be highly damaging for our region and lead to the region falling behind in terms of economic development and growing tourism through Ireland West Airport. We need to fund the N17 upgrade now.”

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Commenting, Ireland West Airport Managing Director Joe Gilmore, said the upgrade of the road was a ‘critical enabler’ to support future growth at the airport and in the North West.

To support our projected growth at Ireland West Airport, it is critically important that the airport is well connected by a modern road infrastructure to and from Sligo and the Northwest with an enhanced and upgraded N17 road network. 

“The Airport is forecasting 2023 to be the busiest year in its history with over 820,000 passengers using the transport hub. This is expected to grow further, based on current trends, to more than one million passengers annually in the coming years. 

“An upgraded N17 will significantly improve journey times and ease of access to and from the airport from the Sligo and the Northwest region for business and leisure travelers.

“In addition, an upgraded N17 will be a critical enabler to support future business growth by enabling more efficient local and  international access to the airport’s Strategic Development Zone and business enterprises along the Atlantic Economic Corridor.”