AFTER numerous false dawns and political promises, the contract for the €230m New Ross Bypass and 900m river bridge was signed on Tuesday.
The sod turning took place on Monday and Minister of State Paul Kehoe said work will begin shortly.
Upwards of 300 jobs are expected to be created in the construction of the bypass, while 2,100 jobs will be created through maintenance, repairs, bridge repairs, drainage and lighting the bypass over 30 years, according to contractors BAM Iridium.
Once open to traffic in 2019 the new road will cut journey times by up to 40 minutes and provide a safer and shorter alternative to the current route through New Ross, eliminating the need for motorists to use the rat run at Raheen into the town. The new road will allow traffic on the N25 between Cork and Waterford to bypass the town of New Ross and cross the Lower Barrow on a new 36m high, 900m long four-lane suspension bridge. This will feature the world's longest central span three tower extradosed bridge, a type of cable-stay structure, spanning the River Barrow.
It will measure 887m.
The €230 million scheme will involve the construction of approximately 13.6km of new dual carriageway and 1.2km of new and upgraded single carriageway to bypass the town of New Ross.
The PPP Project will comprise including new sections of both the N25 and N30 National primary routes. The N25 section commences at a roundabout junction with the existing N25 at Glenmore, County Kilkenny, before crossing over the River Barrow on the bridge extending for approximately 900 metres from Pink Point in County Kilkenny to Stokestown in County Wexford.
The N25 section intersects with the R733 Regional Road at a grade separated junction at landscape before connecting with the existing N25 at a roundabout junction at Ballymacar. The new N30 section proceeds from this point for approximately 5 km to connect with the existing N30 at a roundabout junction at Corcoran's Cross.
Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII), formerly known as the National Roads Authority, argues that it will improve safety by providing a safer road type and ease congestion by providing a bypass of New Ross town on the N25 and N30 where significant delays currently occur, especially on weekdays.
Many New Ross people have expressed concern ever since the bypass was first mooted that it will negatively effect the town's commercial life, which has been decimated through years of recession and factory closures.
New Ross Director of Services Eamonn Hore said the bypass will definitely improve tourism into New Ross, adding that new public parks and spaces will make the town even more attractive, while future investment in Waterford will also benefit the town.
The PPP project, which has a value of approximately €230 million, will involve BAM Group Ireland, BAM PPP, Iridium and Dragados, with the consortium referred to as BAM Iridium. As well as being responsible for constructing the schemes the consortium will be responsible for their operation and maintenance over a 25 year period.
The project also comprises three roundabout junctions at Glenmore (N25), Ballymacar Bridge (N25), Corcoran's Cross (N30), a compact grade separated junction on the R733, a railway bridge over the disused New Ross/Waterford railway line near Glenmore, 11 road bridges and 13 minor structures such as accommodation underpasses. A further €7m is being spent on road improvement works in and around New Ross and in South Kilkenny.
BAM has a long track record of investing in and delivering significant road projects through the PPP model, having successfully delivered the Newlands Cross Junction, M1 Dundalk Western Bypass, the M7/M8 Portlaoise Bypass and the M25 Waterford Bypass motorway schemes.
The contract signing and sod turning was due to take place in 2015, but there were delays due to challenges from a number of residents who owned land on the route. Through compulsory purchase orders, all of the land was acquired. A completion date in late 2019 is likely.
Work was due to begin on the New Ross bypass ahead of the Enniscorthy bypass, but the €455m Enniscorthy contract was signed first.
Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Paschal Donohoe TD, together with Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Brendan Howlin TD, announced the contract award for new N25 New Ross Bypass PPP scheme on Tuesday.
The construction of the N25 is included in the government's Capital Plan 2016-2022 and will be developed over three years. Funding was initially allocated to the project in the government's stimulus plan.
Minister Donohoe said: 'The N25 New Ross Bypass has been eagerly awaited and will be warmly welcomed by all in the south east. The N25 PPP scheme will bring important economic benefits to the south east and improve regional and international connectivity (through Rosslare Europort). It will also reduce traffic congestion and provide economic benefits regionally and locally by increasing the attractiveness of bypassed communities as places to shop, to visit, to work and to live.'
Minister Howlin said: 'This project uses our successful Public Private Partnership model and will be of huge economic benefit to the south east, as well as improving the quality of life for the people of New Ross. I am also especially pleased that between 250 and 300 jobs will be created during construction. I would like to congratulate and acknowledge the efforts of all those involved in the project including TII, the Department of Transport, the NDFA and the European Investment Bank, as well as our other funding partners. Once again, the successful completion of this procurement process illustrates the high level of investor confidence in Ireland. The NDFA were able to successfully leverage Ireland's strong economic recovery to attract high quality investors at competitive long term rates'.
Michael Nolan CEO, TII, said: 'The N25 New Ross Bypass will improve safety and ease congestion within New Ross town. Additionally, when this scheme opens it will enhance regional and national connectivity for all road users along the N25 corridor'.
Jonathan Taylor, EIB Vice President responsible for Ireland, said: 'The New Ross Bypass will provide an alternative for drivers in the south east of Ireland to avoid the often congested town centre and enjoy shorter journey times on the N25, one of the main routes in the country. This is the fourth road project backed by the European Investment Bank in Ireland in the last three years in cooperation with the National Roads Authority.'
Minister Donohoe concluded: 'I wish to thank Transport Infrastructure Ireland, the project sponsors, the EIB, international investors and the county councils for their hard work in getting this scheme over the line and making this important project a reality. I wish BAM Civil and Dragados every success during the construction phase'.
The main structural feature of the scheme will be the construction of Ireland's largest bridge - the River Barrow Bridge, a 887m long crossing (an eight pier and three tower extradose bridge), connecting Pink Point and Stokestown. Work on the the new 900 metre bridge - which will be Ireland's longest - will carry on in tandem with the road's construction.