Tuesday 17 September 2019

M7 roadworks affecting 70,000 motorists daily to continue into summer, council chief says

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Rachel Farrell

Rachel Farrell

AN upgrade project on one of Ireland's busiest motorways is to continue into the summer despite an expected April deadline, Kildare County Council has said.

Roadworks on the M7 were originally expected to be completed by early 2020, but April was announced as the new proposed deadline back in January.

The project will see the M7 widened from Naas to the M9, along with the bypass of Sallins and a new interchange at Osberstown in Co Kildare.

The road carries almost 70,000 vehicles every day and is the main network connection to Waterford, Cork and Limerick.

However speaking this morning, director of services at Kildare County Council Niall Morrissey said that the project is now expected to run into the summer.

"Sometime around July we should be there or thereabouts," he told Newstalk Breakfast.

Mr Morrissey said that crews were making "great progress" but described the project as a difficult one.

"It’s a difficult job, a tight site of 14km long. Motorists can see that sections are getting completed, we are making great progress, and what you will see is the first phase from Johnstown J8 to Naas south, we’re aiming to open that up sometime next month.

"People will see a huge improvement in that first section of the journey. As that gets finished, you’ll see the crews from that site moving onto the next section and joining up with their other colleagues from Naas south onto the merger."

Explaining the delayed deadline, Mr Morrissey said that there were two challenges the council, alongside Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) faced along the way.

"Back in December we projected we might get it done by April or May, but it’s a difficult site, every meter of excavation is a challenge," he said.

"Two major challenges we faced were demolition of the bridge and construction of the new bridge last weekend, which both went down very well. We’re trying not to put out too many dates, but we do see that we’re making great progress."

Demolition of an overpass took place last weekend, with gardai warning motorists of a cautionary 25kmh speed limit.

AA Roadwatch said this morning that northbound traffic between J11 the M9 and J8 Johnstown will travel in the middle and right lanes of the new carriageway as of today.

As a result, the split after J11 the M9 will be removed, with works continuing in the left lane and hard shoulder until further notice.

The upgrade project began in January 2018.

Speaking at the time, the Taoiseach said he was "thrilled" to see the project begin on what is "a vital motorway for commuters and freight transport, which is prone to congestion at peak times".

While Transport Minister Shane Ross said: "I’m delighted to see this significant scheme progressing to contract award stage.  This will be the first of the major road upgrade projects included in the “Building on Recovery” Capital Investment Plan to go to construction.

"While the M7 Naas road widening will improve traffic flow on the main Dublin to Cork corridor, the Osberstown Interchange and the Sallins Bypass will enhance connectivity between the M7 and the towns of Naas and Sallins supporting transport planning for the area."

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