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2003

Press Releases for 2003

Transport Minister announces plans to accelerate motorways to South and West
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12 September 2003

NEW €100M WATERGRASSHILL BY-PASS WILL CUT TRAVEL TIMES AND REDUCE CONGESTION

The Minister for Transport, Séamus Brennan T.D., today (Friday, 12th September 2003) announced plans to accelerate the building of high quality motorways from Dublin to Cork and from Dublin to Galway.  Minister Brennan said now that the M1 Motorway from Dublin to Belfast is almost complete, priority will be given on a number of fronts to completing motorways on the two other major economic corridors-to the South and the West.

He said he had initiated discussions with the National Development Finance Agency (NDFA) and the National Roads Authority to urgently examine ways of wrapping the building of the Dublin-Cork road into one co-ordinated infrastructure project linked to a specific finance package. "By taking an overall approach and bringing the various planned road schemes under one umbrella it may be possible to make a dramatic leap forward on delivering this vital inter-city motorway", the Minister said.

The Minister was speaking after officially opening the N8 Watergrasshill By-Pass in Co. Cork.  The 10 km By-Pass, the overall cost of which was almost €108 million, will remove 18,000 cars a day from travelling through the village and will improve travel times, reduce traffic congestion and improve safety for all traffic using the N8 route                                           

Minister Brennan said he had examined the most up to date assessment of the progress being made on delivering continuous motorway/high quality dual carriageway, from Dublin to Cork. To date 55kms of new road has been completed, 37km is under construction at an estimated cost of almost €350 million and 175km, requiring total planned investment of €1.5 billion, is at various stages of planning.

Nationally, since 2000, some 30 projects or 231km of national roads, including 64km of motorway and 24km of dual carriageway, have been completed. Work is currently underway on 16 more projects or about 173km of national roads, including 155km to motorway, dual carriageway standard. Tendering is underway and work will commence over the coming months on some 16 projects, or 145km of road.

Minister Brennan said that, in addition to the talks with the NDFA and the NRA, measures being taken to accelerate delivery of the motorways to the South and the West, and other major infrastructure projects, include.

  •       The drafting of a Critical Infrastructure (Motorways) Bill to address a   range of issues that are affecting the timeframe and costs involved in the planning, design, construction and delivery of projects.
  •       The publishing of an overall framework outlining a clear strategy for transport in Ireland over the next 20 years.
  •       Close scrutiny of the National Development Plan with a view to examining priority options going forward and to set out realistic and achievable targets.
  •       Discussions about reform with the National Roads Authority.
  •         Maximising the use of the Design and Build (Fixed Price) contracts in order to secure greater certainty of outturn costs.
  •       The publication on a monthly basis of Progress Reports on all major infrastructure projects.

Minister Brennan said: "In Ireland we build roads as fast and as efficiently as any other country. The proof is here today with this project, the Watergrasshill By-pass, opening to traffic four months ahead of schedule. Similar time savings are being achieved in other major projects, including the Kildare By-Pass, which will also open months ahead of schedule. The major problem is that from the time the route is selected to the time the first sod is turned can be up to seven years because of planning conditions, Compulsory Purchase Orders, land acquisition, property prices and a myriad of other legal requirements. My Department is currently drafting a Critical Infrastructure (Motorways) Bill that will address all these issues and seek to shorten the planning cycle. If a project is expected to take nine years and it can be done in four it will cost less because factors such as inflation and the amount set aside for risk will reduce dramatically".

The new Watergrasshill By-pass road will connect to the existing dual carriageway at Glanmire and link to the main Cork/Dublin road, just north of Watergrasshill in the short term. It will in due course link directly to the proposed 18km long Fermoy Bypass which is currently at tender stage and which is due to begin construction next year.

The Watergrasshill scheme is one element of an ambitious plan being pursued for the N8(/N7) Cork-Dublin route. Later this year the M7 Kildare Bypass will also open to traffic - some four months ahead of schedule. Work began earlier this year on the M7 Monasterevin Bypass, the final section of motorway between Dublin and Portlaoise. Closer to Dublin the Authority has plans to incorporate a third lane on the  N7 Naas Road dual carriageway including grade separated interchanges, at the critical traffic bottlenecks of Kill and Johnstown thus providing continuous high/quality dual carriageway from the Red Cow Interchange to the existing Nass Bypass motorway and onward to Portlaoise.      

ENDS

Further information:

Tom Rowley, Press Advisor   (01) 6041089   087 8124723