I am delighted to be here today at the sod-turning for the Arklow - Gorey Bypass which marks yet another milestone in bringing the national roads infrastructure, here in the South-East and nationally, into the 21st century.
Our quality of life is bound up with transport. For family, social, educational, work and business reasons, we all have a need to travel. Fianna Fáil in Government is committed to putting in place a high quality transport infrastructure that matches our status as one of the most dynamic economies in the world over recent years. Excellent projects such as this one are clear evidence of this and will help in improving our economic competitiveness, in creating jobs and in achieving more balanced regional development.
My Fianna Fáil colleagues, Joe Jacob T.D., Minister Dick Roche, Minister of State, John Browne, Deputy Tony Dempsey and representatives at local level work everyday to deliver for Wexford and Wicklow. We have identified, in consultation with the people here in the region, exactly where resource needs arise. Today demonstrates the type of delivery we are committed to for this region.
The Arklow - Gorey Bypass will be a strategic link in our national roads network as it will be part of the southern road corridor between Dublin, Wexford and the Euro-route EO1. It has been designated as a Strategic Radial Corridor in the National Spatial Strategy.
The project comprises the construction of approximately 22.9km of dual carriageway, which will replace the existing N11 national route between Clogh and the Arklow Bypass and includes a bypass of Gorey town.
The bypassing of Gorey which is the main town in the north of Wexford and one of the fastest growing in the South-East will improve the quality of life of its inhabitants.
This vibrant and busy shopping town as well as the entire surrounding areas including the villages of Inch and Clogh will be much better places to live and work in with the removal of up to 10,000 vehicles per day.
The demographic change which Gorey has undergone has been immense. We in Government must respond to this change. We must invest to provide the choice that transport users of the town want, be it for work or leisure. We are doing this in roads and public transport, we will do more of it.
The project represents a further step in the phased upgrading of the N11 which has seen the completion of the Bray Bypass, Glen of the Downs Bypass, Newtownmountkennedy Bypass, Arklow Bypass and most recently the Ashford/Rathnew Bypass. Together with these projects, the upgrading of the Arklow - Gorey section of the N11 will further improve the level of service to users of the N11, reduce journey times and improve access to Rosslare Port.
National Roads Programme
This project is another step in the transformation of the national road network. Good progress is being made throughout the country in upgrading the network. 54 schemes have been completed in the period 2000 to date, including major projects on the M1 from Dublin to Dundalk, N4 Sligo Inner Relief Road, N7 Monasterevin Bypass, N11 Glen of the Downs, M50 South Eastern Motorway and work is underway on others such as Ennis, Loughrea, and Ballyshannon/Bundoran Bypasses.
A total of 376kms including 218kms to motorway/dualcarriageway standard have been completed and construction is underway on another 20 projects - a total of 206kms with 145kms to motorway/dualcarriageway standard.
Now it is important to remember what we are trying to do here. The prize in the Government's road strategy is delivering a road network that for the first time supports economic and social life right across the country. With the delivery of each new road we are reducing journey times, reducing congestion, improving journey time certainty, improving accessibility and ultimately improving the quality of life for thousands of people in bypassed towns and villages.
The contribution of all involved - the NRA, local authorities, consultants, construction industry - to the progress that has been made to date is acknowledged. The ongoing co-operation and commitment of all in seeking better and more efficient and effective ways of doing things will be equally important going forward.
In conclusion, I would like to take the opportunity to thank all involved with this project including
Wexford County Council
the National Roads Authority
the land owners and others who have cooperated in getting the project to this stage
Roadbridge Ltd who have been successful in securing the contract
everyone who had a role - big or small - in getting the project to this stage. I wish you and those who will be working on the site well in bringing the project to a successful conclusion.