Untolled motorway to open ahead of schedule
IRELAND's only untolled motorway will open to traffic in September, three months ahead of schedule.
From September 9 next, motorists will be able to drive from Dublin to Waterford in under two hours, shaving 40 minutes from their journey time.
The National Roads Authority (NRA) last night confirmed the last section of the M9 motorway -- a 40km stretch between Carlow and Knocktopher -- will open in just three weeks.
It cost €467m to build, which brings the cost of the 156km-road from Dublin to Waterford to a total of €1.194bn.
It means just one of the five motorways -- inter-urban routes -- is left to complete, the M7 from Dublin to Limerick. This will open by early December.
"Another spoke in the wheel is due for completion on Sept 9," NRA spokesman Sean O'Neill said.
"We are reaching the completion of the entire major inter-urban plan as outlined in Transport 21. Now all eyes will be on the completion of the M7 Limerick-to-Dublin route, which still has two sections left -- the 36km Castletown-to-Nenagh stretch and the 38km Nenagh-to-Limerick section, both due for completion later this year."
The M9 was built in four stages. The first to open was the Carlow bypass, which consists of 18.5km of dual carriageway and was officially opened to traffic in May 2008. More than 10,000 vehicles a day use it.
It was followed by the Kilcullen-to-Carlow section, which bypassed Ballintor, Timolin, Moone and Castledermot and opened in December 2009.
The third stage was Waterford to Knocktopher, a 24km dual carriageway which links into the Waterford bypass. It opened last March.
The final section is the Carlow-to-Knocktopher section, which includes bypasses of Leighlinbridge and Paulstown.
Transport Minister Noel Dempsey last night claimed Ireland would have a motorway network on a par with anything in Europe by the end of the year.
"By the end of this year Dublin will be connected to Cork, Waterford, Limerick, Galway and the Border by continuous motorway. For the first time we will have a motorway network suited to a modern economy and one that matches the best European standards. This year the Government is investing an average of €93m in national roads," he said.
The M9 is the only road without a toll, but motorists do pay to use the N25 Waterford City bypass.