Notorious bottleneck to go in €100m road plans
ONE OF the country's most notorious bottlenecks is finally going to be removed after the Government secured funding from the banks.
Replacing the traffic lights at the Newlands Cross bottleneck on the main Dublin to Cork/Limerick road with a flyover will enable freeflow motorway journeys from Dundalk to as far as Cork, via the M50.
Funding of more than €100m is being provided by the European Investment Bank (EIB) and Bank of Ireland, in the first such arrangement for road projects for a number of years.
The EIB gave Ireland its stamp of approval, indicating that the country would be financially sound enough to meet the loan repayments.
Until now, the Government had been unable to secure any backers for major road projects through the public private partnership (PPP) process involving tolls or deferred payments.
In addition, the N11 Dublin to Wexford route will also be upgraded to four lanes between Arklow and Rathnew. There have been many fatal crashes in this blackspot, with repeated calls for its upgrading.
The banks will be repaid through a deferred payments scheme, which is similar to a mortgage, and there will be no tolls. The deal was signed off at yesterday's Cabinet meeting.
Construction will start next year on both projects, which are due to be completed by 2014, at which stage the repayments will start.
The Newlands Cross scheme involves the construction of a flyover at the existing junction between the N7 Naas Road and the R113 Fonthill/Belgard Road.
It will be built by the BAM Balfour Beatty construction group.
An Bord Pleanala granted planning permission for the project in June 2008.
Transport Minister Leo Varadkar said the funding was significant, particularly at a time when PPP projects were so difficult to get off the ground.
"Both projects will make a real difference to the travelling public and to businesses. Each covers a critical section of road, and are among a handful of stretches which were never resolved during the boom years.
"It's particularly welcome to be able to remove the last traffic light between Dundalk and Cork," he added.
The construction process will also create employment for hundreds of people.