Legacy Road Network
NEWSUpdate 27/08/2016: Due to the rapid progress the M17/M18 project is making, it was speculated here that it might open a little earlier than February 2018. Back in June, it was confirmed by WorldHighways that the M17/M18 scheme will indeed open early, in November 2017.
Update 20/08/2016: Some photos of the M11 Enniscorthy bypass works are now available on the construction company's website. Here are direct image links and the exact location:  taken here,  taken here,  taken here.
The ground appears very dry - from looking at the images' EXIF info they were taken on 9th August. From here on we can expect a greater level of activity on this scheme now that topsoil strip and levelling is nearly done. The contruction of bridges and underpasses will be next.
Update 23/07/2016: The N25 New Ross bypass project, with its impressive bridge, is finally starting to warm up a bit. A website is now online, and although it's a bit lightweight for now, it reveals that the anticipated completion date is April 2019, and there will be a live webcam coming online when major structural work starts in Q3 of this year (October onwards).
Update 10/07/2016: The new minister for Transport, Shane Ross, has confirmed that when the government's Capital Spending Plan is reviewed next year, the planned M20 motorway between Cork and Limerick will be re-examined. This appears to be contingent on breaking the project into phases - which would be a perfectly good way to deliver it as some sections (the middle part in particular) need the upgrade more urgently than others. Here's hoping the road will be given the attention it deserves when the time comes.
The Current Road Programme has had the start dates updated for all upcoming schemes based on the latest information. Most of them seem to be happening in 2018. To avoid having too much going on in one year, though, it's more likely the start dates will be staggered a bit, so expect a group to begin then and the rest in 2019. The intention is to have everything in the spending plan completed by 2021.
Update 25/06/2016: The Preferred Route has been announced for the new N81 dual carriageway that includes a bypass of Blessington. This is mapped on the National Secondary Routes map.
The government has released its Summer Economic Statement on the state of the country's economy. In the foreword on page i, the following interesting statement is made:
"Our public investment rate fell during the crisis years and the Government is conscious of the need to boost the supply of critical infrastructure. The public capital plan1 provides for €42 billion of capital investment over the 2016-2021 period and the Government remains committed to this. In addition, the Government will propose for Oireachtas approval an additional €5.1 billion in capital spending over this period. This ambitious programme of capital spending is aimed at addressing infrastructural bottlenecks, particularly regional infrastructural shortages. Creating deeper infrastructural linkages between the stronger growth hubs and other parts of the country will help to spread growth more evenly and hence address some of the regional imbalances that have emerged in recent years. Achieving a more equal regional distribution of economic activity is at the core of the Programme for a Partnership Government."The above €5.1 billion sounds tantalisingly like it could be spent on the much-needed M20 project between Cork and Limerick. Of course there are very important rail projects in the Dublin area that could benefit from this too.
Update 10/06/2016: The tender for the M7 widening scheme from Naas to Newbridge has been issued. The closing date is 15th July. There has been no change in the planned start date of works, so it is presumed that these are still on track to kick off in April 2017.
Update 30/05/2016: Things are starting to look good for the proposed M20 Limerick-Cork motorway, as this news article reveals:
The Department of Transport has confirmed proposals to build a motorway between Limerick and Cork may be resurrected in the coming months.Since the mid-term review will not take place until 2018, there have also been calls for the planning process to be restarted now so that 2 years are not lost.
It can only be hoped that common sense will prevail as there are few transport projects as badly needed as this in the whole country.
Update 02/05/2016: Details of the new roads that were mentioned on p.74 of the Draft Transport Strategy for the Greater Dublin Area 2016-2035 have now been added to the Full Scheme List page and the scheme map. All are listed as being complete by 2035, though of course it will be sooner in reality.
Update 11/04/2016: There is a scheme expected to get underway by this summer which will upgrade most of the N86 Tralee-Dingle road, including removing some of its hairpin bends.
It measures 28 km but is in two disconnected sections - the route through the village of Annascaul will not be bypassed.
The scheme, which extends from Dingle to the village of Camp, seems like it is in an isolated area, but receives significant tourist traffic in summer months. Detailed design drawings [25Mb] are available on Kerry County Council's website.
Update 09/04/2016: Dedicated photographer "M17" on the M17/M18 thread on Boards.ie has been photographing the scheme since work started last year.
Here is a selection of his photos:
The mainline , , a cutting , , an overbridge under construction, a newly completed roundabout with blacked-out signage, a newly opened overbridge at Cartymore on the R339, and a stunning aerial photo of the new N63 overbridge and connecting roads at Annagh Hill.
Finally, this photo from yesterday (8th) shows the amazing level of progress at Corofin, south of Tuam. It's clear that the road will be completed in and around this part far in advance of the rest.
Update 04/04/2016: Surprisingly and a little disappointingly, it has been reported that the M17/M18 motorway east of Galway will not have a phased opening, despite some sections being far more advanced in construction than others. This is from the Connaught Tribune article:
"The new Gort-to-Tuam motorway is on schedule to be completed, as planned, in early 2018 and the 57-kilometre project will be opened at the one time.In other news, some adjustments have had to be made to the planned route of the N28/M28 Cork-Ringaskiddy road, in order to satisfy requests from local residents. This is revealed in the official site, where detailed route alignment drawings have been made available. The new route will be dual carriageway from the city as far as Carr's Hill interchange, and motorway thereafter - not all motorway as was previously believed. It will now consist of 8.6 km of motorway, 2.3 km of high quality dual carriageway, and 1.6 km of single carriageway. The map on the M28 page has been updated to reflect this change.
Interestingly, it is also mentioned on the official site that a Motorway Services Area at Ringaskiddy is due to form part of the project.
Update 19/03/2016: A minor scheme that slipped under the radar somewhat is the 4.5 km improvement of the N84 Galway-Castlebar road south of Headford. This scheme involves 3 km of online widening and 1.5 km of new build single carriageway and is a very big improvement on what currently exists along that section. This map illustrates the upgraded section and a Youtube flyover video shows the progress that has been made. Work started last August and should be complete by June of this year.
Update 17/03/2016: Tenders are being sought for the M7 Naas-Newbridge widening and improvement, according to a recent announcement. It looks like it is still on track for a start in April 2017.
The latest phase in the building of a new bypass going by Sallins and the subsequent upgrades to the M7 have begun as tenders are now being officially sought.A contract for ground investigation works has gone out for the N4 Collooney-Castlebaldwin scheme. Hopefully this new road south of Sligo should be ready to start within the next two years or so.
Detailed design plans are now available for the M11 Enniscorthy scheme, starting after PDF page 66.
The mothballed M20 motorway between Cork and Limerick is surfacing in the media quite regularly:
Irish Examiner : "Cork-Limerick motorway benefits 'outweigh costs' "
Transport Infrastructure Ireland senior engineer Richard Bowen said the overwhelmingly positive findings in the 2010 research remain relevant today. ...Evening Echo : "Taoiseach Rules Out Cork-Limerick Motorway"
"Money is not available for Cork to Limerick. It won't be there until we can continue to keep this economy recovering. It is amazing how the expectations grow just as the economy starts to improve. If that money was in position now, we wouldn't be hanging around."Although there is no plan to build it, the government did acknowledge last year that the decision would likely be reviewed in 2017. Considering how important the scheme is, it can only be hoped that it makes progress this side of 2020.
Update 08/02/2016: All traffic counts have been updated for 2014 and 2015.
It seems that a last minute change has been made to the Enniscorthy bypass, reported in the Enniscorthy People, which was meant to terminate right before the village of Oilgate, County Wexford :
"Minister Brendan Howlin made the announcement at the sod turning for the New Ross bypass on Monday... [He] said even though the contract for the works was signed and the design works had the bypass finishing on the Enniscorthy side of Oylegate, an agreement was reached whereby the bypass will now end on the Wexford side."The existing N11 runs right through the middle of this village. The bypass will now extend to the south of this village. An updated route has not been defined, but it is assumed it will follow the one defined in the N11/N25 Oilgate Rosslare Harbour project. This follows the existing road before looping around to the east of Oylegate.
Update 28/01/2016: Contract signing has taken place for the N25 New Ross bypass. This long-anticipated scheme features a 900-metre signature bridge across a 36-metre deep valley and will be built by BAM. The town lies along the bottom and traffic currently has to make its way down a steep hill, through narrow streets, and up another hill. The project will consist of 13.6 km of dual and 1.2 km of single carriageway and is costing €230M, funded by a European Investment Bank (EIB) loan. The route is the Waterford to Wexford and Rosslare road and the town is the only major non-bypassed settlement on the entire N25 (Cork-Rosslare) route. Work is due to start in March and it is anticipated that the new road and bridge will open in 2019. More info is on this site's N25 page and a map showing the future route is here. News items and press releases are available from TII, Minister Paschal Donohoe and the Irish Times.
The same Irish Times article also confirms that work has now began on the new M11 Enniscorthy bypass. There are now two motorway schemes simultaneously under construction nationwide. This new road to the east of the town on the Dublin-Wexford N11 road is expected to open in 2018.
A high-quality aerial photo of the M6/M17/M18 junction under construction at Rathmorrissey west of Athenry has been posted by dedicated roadfan Geogregor from Poland. It shows the overbridges, large roundabout and slip roads starting to take shape.
On the Galway Bypass front, the latest news is that detailed design is continuing and planning permission is expected to be sought by Q3 2016. Hopefully this would clear the way for construction to start in 2017.
Sadly, news is not so good for the development of new motorway service areas (MSAs). There are now 3 completed facilities which cannot open for business due to being stuck in legal limbo. They are on the M6 east of Athlone, the M9 at Kilcullen, and the M11 at Gorey.
The next three MSAs to be built, according to the official site, will be on the M3, the southern half of the M18, and the M6 immediately east of Galway. Along with the 3 already open on the M1 and the M4, there would then be 9 in total, but another 10 are planned. Since progress has been slow so far, we could be waiting many years for these.
Update 13/01/2016: A particularly amazing video of speeded-up drone footage of the M17 construction site is on Youtube. Noteworthy is the large amount of water on and around the site near the end of the clip. Some of this is a turlough, according to Google maps aerial imagery, but it can be seen that severe flooding of the future Tuam bypass has occurred due to recent heavy rains.
Update 27/12/2015: Some high-quality drone footage of the Tuam section of the M17/M18 project has been uploaded to Youtube. This section of the project is being built to standard dual carriageway spec with roundabouts. All other sections are motorway grade.
TII (Transport Infrastructure Ireland) has announced its funding allocation for 2016 for the national road network. Sadly, it does not say that any new schemes will get underway next year (barring the already-announced N25 New Ross bypass) but simply that land purchase and design work will proceed. Specifically mentioned are the N4 Collooney-Castlebaldwin, N5 Westport-Turlough and the N22 Ballyvourney-Macroom schemes, though the language used leaves the door open for other schemes to make progress too.
Update 10/12/2015: It has been confirmed by eyewitnesses that some work has finally begun on the M11 Enniscorthy bypass, so it is now listed as under construction on the Current Programme page. Contract sign for this was back in October and it should be completed by 2018.
Update 01/12/2015: A preferred route has been announced for the new Limerick to Foynes road to replace the N69. The project proposes to replace a good length of the N21 southwest of Limerick, bypassing Adare and continuing as far as Rathkeale. From there, a new road will head north to the port of Foynes, with a link road to the village of Askeaton on the existing N69. To see this mapped out, open the "Current Road Programme" map on the right in a new window and zoom in to the area.
The plans that have been put on public display, as well as having detailed maps of the new alignment, also indicate the route options that were considered. One of these, the red route, followed the existing road closely, while the rest bypassed Adare before following various paths to Foynes. Adare sees high levels of tourist traffic and had an average of 16,000 vehicles per day in 2015. Since a bypass has been urgently required for many decades at this point, the fact that the chosen route to replace the Limerick to Foynes road doubles up as an Adare bypass is a neat trick. Note that the Adare bypass will pass to the north of the town; previously, a standalone scheme that passed to the south was refused planning permission.
It will be interesting to see how this is numbered. It is not clear whether the existing N69 will be downgraded in which case the part from Rathkeale to Foynes will need a new number. It is also not yet decided what standard this will all be built to. Traffic near Adare is high enough to warrant a motorway, and indeed the new road there will be an extension of the M20 motorway, though this would not necessarily indicate that the new N21 will also be. The part from Rathkeale to Foynes is unlikely to be any more than a single carriageway, but with a limited number of access points. Traffic levels on the Askeaton-Foynes segment were 5,800 vehicles per day in 2015.
Note that there was a plan to build an Adare-Abbeyfeale dual carriageway; part of this will be provided by the present scheme, reducing the needed length from 45 to 33 km.
Update 23/11/2015: The Public Private Partnership (PPP) funding model has been successful in Ireland over the years for getting large road projects off the ground and delivering at scale. Recent examples are M11 Wicklow-Arklow/N7 Newlands Cross combined package which was completed in 2015 and M17/M18 Gort-Tuam which is underway. Next is M11 Enniscorthy and N25 New Ross which will both start in January 2016. (Formerly these were a single package but they have been decoupled.) The Galway Bypass was described as a PPP many years ago, but it is unclear now if this is still the case. It will start either way probably around 2017 when legal and other planning hurdles are cleared.
Beyond these, there are no other PPPs planned for the foreseeable future, and certainly not until at least after 2021. What schemes would be suitable? Here is a list of proposals:
Update 21/11/2015: Over at Wexford Hub, some articles have been written up on the upcoming Enniscorthy and New Ross bypass construction projects, accompanied by maps. In particular, the New Ross article provides a fascinating timeline of the process that bypass has had to go through in order to get to this stage.
Update 18/11/2015: During the boom years of the 2000s, a cross-border co-operation plan was hatched with the Northern Ireland Executive whereby the Republic would contribute to the development of certain roads in the North if they were deemed to have certain economic value to the Republic due to being part of long-distance routes that crossed the border.
The A8 to Larne and the A5 from Aughnacloy (near the Monaghan border) to Derry were selected. Both were high quality dual carriageways. Since then, the A8 has been completed - it opened fully to traffic in April 2015. However, the A5 has endured setback after setback.
In November 2011 the £400M that had been pledged for the A5 was withdrawn, with the Irish government citing lack of available funds. The scheme was split into smaller parts - Derry to Strabane and Omagh to Ballygawley. Due to quarrels over the priority of new starts, no progress has been made on these either, and in Autumn of this year, a crisis gripped the Northern Ireland Assembly (government) - political deadlock risked bringing governance of the province to a complete halt.
However, it has now been revealed that a deal has been struck, and part of that includes a renewal of the Republic's pledge to fund the A5. (Note that this article erroneously states that the originally promised amount was 400 million euro instead of pounds). Another article specifies that the amount to be contributed on this occasion is €107M, to be spent between 2017 and 2019. The splitting of the works mean that the money can be spread over a longer time period - it seems that 2017 would be the start date for the two currently planned schemes.
Update 16/11/2015: Last month, a draft Transport Strategy for the Greater Dublin Area 2016-2035 was released. It contains proposals for new and improved transport infrastructure for Dublin and the surrounding hinterland. It includes many public transport projects and cycling initiatives, and several road proposals on p.74. In an update to this site on the 22nd October, the potential upgrade to motorway standard of the N7 from the M50 to Naas was mentioned. This is confirmed in the strategy document, although the improvement is described as a 'reconfiguration' rather than upgrade to motorway.
In addition, several other road upgrade ideas are mentioned:
Many of these were anticipated on the Motorway Widening section of the Futures page on this site with detailed discussion here. Particularly challenging will be improvements to the N11 from Bray to Ashford - proposals are here, here and here that consider ways this could be achieved. The terrain is difficult, highly environmentally sensitive, and the building density is high along the corridor, making widening and other changes very hard.
Since the N4 from the M50 to Leixlip was widened to 6 lanes and converted into a near-motorway back in 2009, it is not apparent what the 'reconfiguration' of this stretch could possibly involve. Perhaps some junction layouts are to be tweaked. The document does not mention motorway widening of the M4 Leixlip-Maynooth stretch, which is starting to run above capacity.
Finally it is confirmed that up to the horizon year of the plan (2035), no work will take place on the Leinster Outer Orbital motorway (referred to as M45 on this site), though its route will be kept clear of development for possible later implementation. Additionally, only the part of the M50 Dublin Eastern Bypass given above, in the docks area, will be progressed. The remainder south to Sandyford will remain a protected corridor but no building work will take place.
Update 07/11/2015: Although not many improvements are planned for Ireland's National Secondary trunk roads, a new map page has been created for them. It mostly consists of town bypasses, with the exception of the N81 dual carriageway replacement of the Tallaght-Blessington road in Dublin and Wicklow.
Update 22/10/2015: This has come as a bit of a surprise, but it seems plans are afoot to upgrade to motorway the whole of the N7 Naas Dual Carriageway from the M50 to Naas. Information is drawn from an item on an EU tendering website. The text is reproduced below:
The objectives of the "N7 Junction 1 (M50) to Junction 9 (Naas North) Motorway Scheme" is to upgrade the existing dual three lane carriageway section of the N7 between Junction 1 (M50) and Junction 9 (Naas North) to a Motorway. Kildare County Council seeks the services of a competent Civil Engineering Consultant experienced in Major Civil Engineering Works to act as Client's representative. Tenderers are requested to provide engineering consultancy services to Kildare County Council in connection with the "The N7 Junction 1 (M50) to Junction 9 (Naas North) Motorway Scheme". The Consultant will undertake the role of Project Supervisor Design Process (PSDP) for all contracts associated with the commission up to the publication of the Preliminary Appraisal Report. The specific scheme objectives are;No timescale or funding is identified for this scheme.
This idea was anticipated on this site in the Futures section. The accompanying map illustrates all the junction changes, new parallel roads and side access closures that would be needed. Note that it was assumed that the upgrade would only go as far as Rathcoole, leaving a few miles of lower standard road between there and the M50 due to the large number of side accesses. However, the officially proposed scheme goes all the way to the M50.
Update 20/10/2015: There are now three MSAs (Motorway Service Areas) completed around the country, but not opened to traffic - due to legal action currently making its way through the courts. The areas are on the M11 at Gorey, M9 at Kilcullen and the M6 east of Athlone. Hopefully this situation will be resolved shortly as the lack of services on the new motorways is a problem in many parts of the country.
Last week, the contract for building the M11 Enniscorthy bypass was signed and work is estimated to begin in January 2016. This new road will see 27 km of new motorway east of the town, an 8-km single carriageway link to the N80 northwest of the town, and a 4 km dual carriageway link to the N30 Waterford road to the west. See the M11 page for a map and other details.
The equally ambitious M7 widening scheme now has a confirmed start date of April 2017, with some preliminary work getting underway next year. The works would see 11.5 km of the M7 widened from 4 to 6 lanes from east of Naas to the split with the M9 near Newbridge. A new junction 9A would be built at Osberstown, north of Naas. A bypass of the village of Sallins would connect to this new junction. This bypass would consist of 1.6 km of dual carriageway and 2 km of single. Additionally, junction 10 will be entirely reconstructed, and will connect with a different road. Currently the junction intersects with a road leading to M7 Business Park and Newhall Retail Park (map link). The newly built junction will interface with the R445 (old N7). All of this is badly needed as at rush hour every evening, improvements to the Naas dual carriageway from Naas to the M50 at Dublin have resulted in traffic arriving at the 4-lane motorway faster than previously, and it is not able to cope.
Finally! Biggest and best news. It has been confirmed that the new N28 from Cork to Ringaskiddy, which had always been planned as HQDC, will go ahead as motorway. As a result, I have created a new page for it, giving details of its construction and the timetable for that, together with a map. It will consist of 11 km of motorway and 1.5 km of high-quality single carriageway. The northern part of this will be an online upgrade of the existing dual carriageway. It is planned to commence construction in 2019 and to finish up in 2021.
Numerous maps of the scheme, and discussion around its economic justification, can be found by opening the scheme's official site and clicking Public Display. In particular, this document gives a detailed overview of the context of the scheme. A close look at the single-carriageway part at the Ringaskiddy end can be found here, and the full route corridor is mapped out here.
It is also planned to provide a motorway services area on the new road, as mentioned on page 12 of this policy document.
Update 13/10/2015: With the prospect of a new round of road schemes coming up soon, the first in a long time, the Google map showing recent and upcoming road schemes has been split. One map covers everything built between 2005 and 2015. The new one covers everything that is due to take place after 2015. Links to both maps can be found linked in the right hand panel of this page.
Update 30/09/2015: Finally, the Government's eagerly awaited capital spending plan has been announced. It encompasses commuter railways, hospitals, schools, universities, broadband, social housing and roads. This is the first time spending on roads has increased since 2010, due to the many years of austere budgets in Ireland due to the economic crisis. The plan covers the period 2016-2022.
RTE has some videos on the announcement: ,  and several articles: , 
The Department of Transport has more detail on their site.
Here is a summary of the programmed schemes:
N4 Collooney to Castlebaldwin (2+2)
N5 Westport to Turlough (2+2)
M7 Naas-Newbridge road widening (6-lane motorway), new Junction 9A & Sallins By-Pass (single carriageway/SC)
N8/N25/N40 Dunkettle Interchange
N22 Ballyvourney to Macroom (2+2)
N56 Dungloe to Glenties (SC)
N56 Mountcharles to Inver (SC)
N59 Moycullen By-Pass (SC)
Additionally, the following schemes have not yet received planning permission but will be progressed:
N2 Slane Bypass (2+2)
N6 Galway Bypass (HQDC)
N28 Cork to Ringaskiddy (HQDC/SC)
N21 Adare Bypass (D2AP or HQDC) & N69 Limerick to Foynes (D2AP or SC, probably a combined scheme)
N72 Mallow Relief Road (SC)
To the surprise and disappointment of many, there will be no work taking place on the much-needed M20 motorway between Cork and Limerick. It had been hoped that at least the central section at Mallow would move ahead on this occasion. The existing road has never received any major upgrades.
Finally, it now seems that work will commence in November on the already-programmed N25 New Ross bypass and the M11 Enniscorthy Bypass. Previously these were planned for early next year so we will see:
"Director of Services with Wexford County Council's Roads Department, Eamonn Hore told this newspaper that the contracts will be signed in the first or second week of October and work will begin shortly afterwards.