"The existing minor junctions where many of the most serious high speed collisions occur will be removed..."
Transport Minister, Martin Cullen, T.D. today (Thursday, 5th October 2006) turned the sod in Twomileborris, County Tipperary on the longest road project ever to be undertaken in the State. The development known as the M8/N8 Cullahill to Cashel Road Project, comprises 10.5 kms of motorway between Cullahill in County Laois and Urlingford in County Kilkenny and 29 kms of dual carriageway between Urlingford and Cashel in South Tipperary. It will also link the proposed Portlaoise to Cullahill motorway to the Cashel bypass. Roadbridge/Sisk Consortium and Malone O'Regan Scott Wilson Engineers will be managing the project. It is expected to be completed in autumn 2009.
At the sod turning ceremony, Minister Cullen said: "Events like today are clear evidence of the pace and momentum that Ireland's national transport investment plan, Transport 21, has built up since its launch last November. At the core of this Government plan - which sees €9.4 million per day spent on transport for the next 10 years - is the continued development of our national road network. Transport 21 is for every region in the country. It provides for a total investment of over €18 billion specifically in roads over the period 2006-2015."
This new road project includes the construction of overbridges and underbridges and bypasses the villages of Johnstown, Urlingford, Turnpike, Twomileborris, Littleton, Horse and Jockey and Moycarkey. It will remove 13,000 vehicles daily from these villages. It will improve traffic flow for the driver, reduce travel time by at least 15 minutes by bypassing these villages and improve access to the south and the southwest of Ireland.
"The Cullahill to Cashel project, I believe, will hand villages back to the local people of this area and allow them to thrive and expand in a better environment. Many other towns that have bypasses such as Nenagh, Naas, Kildare and others, have quickly capitalised on the reduction in traffic and the ease of doing business. I have no doubt that the residents of Johnstown, Urlingford, and Moycarkey (to name but a few), will be equally as quick to grasp the opportunity this road development will undoubtedly present to them", added the Minister.
Minister Cullen spoke of the high quality standards of national road projects, which are resulting in safer routes that reduce the likelihood of future accidents. "The N8 has its share, regretfully, of serious and fatal accidents", he said. "This new road will improve on the current situation by removing most of the traffic from the existing single carriageway road - with its numerous accesses and junctions - to a new, high quality dual carriageway / motorway standard road, which will have grade separated junctions at four locations. The existing minor junctions where many of the most serious high speed collisions occur will be removed."
Earlier this week, Minister Cullen's colleague, Mr Pat the Cope Gallagher, T.D. launched a new cross border TV road safety campaign specifically aimed at young people between the ages of 17 and 29 years and at parents carrying children in the back seats of cars. "All of us individually have a responsibility to drive carefully, within the speed limit, wearing a seat belt every day we get in to a car. I wish to acknowledge the efforts the Gardaí are making in enforcing the law, but it is up to each one of us to co-operate and act responsibly on our roads", said Minister Cullen.
The Minister thanked the local authorities involved in the initiative Kilkenny County Council, South Tipperary County Council, North Tipperary County Council, Laois County Council and the National Roads Authority. He wished the contractors and engineers involved in the project well in delivering another piece of national road infrastructure.
Mr Peter Malone, Chairman of the National Roads Authority said: "Seeing Transport 21 come to fruition is fantastic. The M8/N8 Cullahill Cashel project is another major step in connecting Dublin and Cork. This project not only advances regional economic growth, but also allows for local development in the areas of tourism and general business services. This project along with M7/M8 Portlaoise to Cullahill, the N8 Cashel bypass and the N8 Cashel to Mitchelstown brings us ever closer to achieving our goal of connecting Dublin and Cork with motorway/dual carriageway by 2010."
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