NEW ROAD ELIMINATES TRAFFIC BOTTLENECKS THAT CAUSED DELAYS OF OVER AN HOUR AT PEAK TIMES
The new €182 million Ashford/Rathnew By-Pass, officially opened today (Monday, 27th September 2004) by the Minister for Transport, Séamus Brennan T.D., extends to 50km a roadway of motorway standard from Dublin to Wicklow on the strategically important N11 national route. The Ashford/Rathnew By-Pass was financed by the Irish Government and was also co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).
The new By-Pass, which currently caters for an average of 20,000 vehicles per day, will deliver substantial journey time savings as it eliminates serious traffic bottlenecks at Rathnew and Ashford where delays of up to one hour at peak times have regularly occurred.
The new road, completed five months ahead of schedule, consists of 13.6km of dual carriageway with a further 12km of single carriageway and ramps. The route bypasses the villages of Ashford and Rathnew and rejoins the existing N11 one mile south of Rathnew. The project also includes the construction of 5 grade separated interchanges and 12 bridges, including over the Wicklow to Rathdrum railway and the Vartry River.
The N11 forms part of the North/South Corridor which runs from Belfast via Dublin city to Rosslare and on to Cork city, linking 3 of the largest centres of population in the country and providing access to the South and Southeast regions, three major airports in Dublin, Cork and Belfast and key the commercial seaports of Larne, Dublin, Rosslare, Waterford and Cork.
Speaking at the opening, Minister Brennan said: "Today is another important step in the ongoing transformation of Ireland's infrastructure map. The Ashford/Rathnew By-Pass, together with the Glen of the Downs scheme and other major upgrades on the route, extends to over 50km a road built to motorway standard from Dublin deep into Wicklow.
"For motorists and other road users the benefits will be enormous as the tailbacks and delays, sometimes up to an hour or more, are replaced by free-flowing traffic conditions. The new road will also make travel much safer for all road users. There will also be substantial economic benefits as access to and from Dublin to the Southeast and South will be speeded up, and those using the North/South Corridor will have reduced journey times."
The Minister said the building of a 21st century motorway and high quality road network was now in full stride throughout the country. The recently agreed five-year multi annual funding package for roads is resulting in up to €150 million a month being invested. The five-year investment programme was an historic agreement and was arguably the most significant development to date in the delivery of a motorway network of world class standard.
Minister Brennan added: "In every part of the country the benefits of this high level of investment are increasingly evident. One by one the infamous traffic bottlenecks are being eliminated and one by one we are joining up the schemes as we move closer to delivering motorways of world class standard. Today, this new road brings relief to the people of Rathnew and Ashford, and surrounding areas. Last week saw the opening of the Ballincollig By-Pass in Cork. Before the end of 2004, two other notorious traffic bottlenecks, at Monasterevin and Cashel, will be by-passed as major new schemes are opened to traffic. Work is now well underway on the 17.5km Fermoy By-Pass which will, on completion in 2007, remove at least 17,000 vehicles each day away from the town centre. Work is also underway on by-passes of Ennis, Dundalk, Sligo, Carrickmacross and Loughrea. And in Dublin, the completion of the M50 ring road and the upgrading of key junctions on it and the opening of the Port Tunnel will help unclog the city."
Since 2000, a total of 41 schemes, delivering 277kms of new roads, have been completed. Work is underway on another 19 projects (214kms) and a further 11 projects (73kms) are at tender stage.
Minister Brennan said the archaeological investigations prior to the main building contractor being appointed on the Ashford/Rathnew project had uncovered fascinating artifacts and other evidence that have added enormously to the understanding of the prehistoric and historic landscape in Wicklow.
Minister Brennan said that significant progress was being made on other schemes on the N11:
The 16km Rathnew-Arklow project, estimated to cost almost €100 million, is currently at planning and design stage.
The Arklow/Gorey By-Pass, involving construction of 22km of dual carriageway, is at planning and design stage with the CPO/EIS recently published.
The 16km Enniscorthy By-Pass is at planning and design stage with the route selection report complete.
Construction work is expected to start before the end of 2004 on the Enniskerry Junction, a pedestrian footbridge over the existing N11 including ramps and stairs.
Minister Brennan said that rapid progress is now being made on rolling out a major national roads building programme as a result of a number of recent developments, primarily the securing of the historic agreement with the Department of Finance on the multi annual funding arrangement for infrastructure projects that guarantees State investment of almost €7 billion over the next five years. When this is combined with up to €2 billion in private investment the result is that in the region of €9 billion will be poured into building new motorways and dual carriageways on a scale never before envisaged.
Minister Brennan said: "What this means in real practical terms is that on average €150 million will be spent each month for the next five years on building the motorway infrastructure that is vital to the future economic growth of this country. This is primarily taxpayers' money that is being invested so there is a clear responsibility on all involved to ensure it is managed properly and value for the money is delivered"
The Minister added: "We are entering a particularly exciting era for road building in Ireland. The combination of the agreed five year rolling multi-annual investment package, the maximum use of Design and Build contracts, and the enhanced management of projects by the National Roads Authority means we can deliver the major roads projects faster, within budget and, in most cases, ahead of schedule. The guaranteed annual investment is the most significant development in years for roads. It allows the Department and the National Roads Authority to better plan and implement ambitious projects with greater effectiveness and with the emphasis on delivery, transparency and, above all else, real value for the massive amounts of money being invested."
Tom Rowley (01) 6041089 087 8124723
Veronica Scanlan (01) 6041087 087 6430622
Map of By-Pass attached