Thousands walk the Shannon tunnel
MORE than 40,000 people took a unique opportunity to walk under the River Shannon at the weekend.
Organisers of Limerick tunnel's open day said they were "completely stunned" by the response from the public to the event.
And the good news for weary motorists is that the country's third tunnel for road users is expected to be opened by the end of next month.
At a cost of €500m, the Limerick tunnel is one of the largest engineering projects ever undertaken in the western region.
A toll plaza will operate for all motorists on the northern side of the river with tolls expected to be the equivalent of similar schemes in the country.
Denis Morgan, from Ballinacurra Gardens, Limerick, was one of the first members of the public to walk underneath the river.
"It is absolutely fantastic. Great engineering went into it. It puts Limerick on the map," Mr Morgan said.
Managing director of the consortium Direct Route, Tom King, said the open day was a complete success.
"We got a great response from the public. It was double the number that we expected," Mr King said.
Twenty buses were deployed to carry visitors to and from the site throughout Saturday.
"Everyone wants to know when it will be open and we are hoping this will come to pass next month," Mr King said.
The 675-metre section of the tunnel under the Shannon completes the final phase of the Southern ring road in Limerick, linking the Dublin road (N7) to the Ennis road (N18).
It is expected that the tunnel will remove 40,000 vehicles from Limerick city centre on a daily basis.
Construction work began in 2006 with the project divided into six sections.
The new route includes almost 10km of dual carriageway, 11 bridges, six underpasses and a 900-metre tunnel with a 675-metre section under water.