To ask the Minister for Transport the progress on the development of a network of motorway service and rest areas on the national road network; the number of motorway service and rest areas proposed in total; the completion date for each of the rest and service areas; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
- Róisín Shortall. (Nominated by: Thomas P. Broughan).
For ORAL answer on Thursday, 6th March, 2008.
Ref No: 9608/08 Lottery: 13
Answered by the Minister for Transport and the Marine Noel Dempsey T.D.
As Minister for Transport, I have responsibility for overall policy and funding in relation to the national roads programme element of Transport 21. The detailed planning, design and implementation of national road projects, including the possible provision of service and/or rest areas on or near these routes, is a matter for the National Roads Authority (NRA) under the Roads Act 1993, as amended by the Roads Act 2007, in conjunction with the relevant local authorities concerned.
In recognition of the important role service area facilities can play in improving the safety of the national road network, my predecessor asked the NRA in late 2005 to review their service area policy. Arising from this review, the NRA announced a strategy to provide service areas at intervals (where feasible and practicable) of approximately 50-60kms along national routes. They identified optimum locations for up to 12 service areas on the Major Inter-urban Routes (M1, M4/N4, N6, M7/N7, N8, N9) as well as the N6/N18 and N11 routes.
I understand from the NRA that these service areas will offer a full range of services including retail services as well as extensive car and HGV parking facilities.
The NRA had initially considered developing service and rest areas separately. However, having considered the matter further in consultation with local authorities, they have decided that service areas with extensive parking facilities available for both cars and HGVs offer a more attractive product and a more secure environment for all drivers. In addition, they will allow a more comprehensive enforcement of transport law and regulation.
My role is to ensure that the necessary legislative framework is in place to provide for such areas. I am pleased to inform the House that last Thursday, 28 February 2008, I signed the necessary regulations giving effect to provisions in the Road Act 2007 to facilitate service areas along national routes. As a result, the NRA expects this week to submit Service Area Schemes to An Bord Pleanala for the first tranche of three services areas on currently constructed sections of the motorway (two on the M1 and one on the M4).
The NRA has already begun the PPP procurement processes for these service areas. They are also actively pursing site acquisition for other proposed areas on the rest of the national road network. Subject to An Bord Pleanala approval, completion of the first three service areas is anticipated in 2009.