Legacy Road Network
NEWSUpdate 18/07/2017: The Government has announced that a rainy-day fund into which they had previously committed to paying €1 billion per year will now be scaled down and there will be an extra €500 million available for capital spending each year between 2019 and 2021.
The underground railway project, Metro North, now seems likely to be moved forward for Dublin, and the M20 motorway between Limerick and Cork will very likely be built. There have not been any specific projects mentioned so far, however, and the 500 million will be across all capital expenditure - public housing, education, schools, roads and public transport.
An article in the Irish Times claims that the M20, if built, would create up to 5,400 jobs and generate €128 million in accident savings, lost time due to congestion and economic effects. RTE has published a full summary of the business case for the M20, if you want a longer read. Pages 11-13 cover potential accident reduction (2.4 fatalities per year) and 14-19 cover the economic benefits.
Update 26/06/2017: Some decent photos the N25 and M11 schemes: bridge abutments for the bridge over the River Barrow, part of the N25 New Ross project, and a large bridge for the M11 at Solsborough. This bridge is actually for the N30 dual carriageway segment of the scheme and will cross a road, a railway line, and the river Slaney in one go.
Update 19/06/2017: It has been confirmed by an insider working closely with the M17/M18 project that the road will open early to traffic, in November of this year and not February 2018 as officially indicated. The exact date will be Friday 3rd November 2017. However, works will be completed in September so there will be 8 weeks of road testing before the public is allowed onto the facility. The short Tuam Bypass element will open even earlier, in August.
Although it's a fairly minor scheme, it has been confirmed that work on the single carriageway N56 Letterkenny-Kilmacrennan project will commence by the end of 2017:
"McHugh confirmed that tenders for the new road will be issued in four weeks' time with work due to begin before the end of this year. The new Blue Banks road - minus the bends - will be completed by mid-2019."A design update has been put up on the website for the N21/N69 Limerick-Foynes scheme. The map provides greater detail than previously seen. The main change is that a junction will be added at Croagh east of Rathkeale. This will either be immediately west or east of Croagh.
It seems that some of the 1990s Rathkeale bypass will be made redundant by the scheme, with the new route paralleling it. At the new junction on the bypass that provides onward N21 access and forms the start of the new N69, the bypass westwards will still be the N21, but the eastern part of the bypass will become a link road connecting the existing N21 east of the town to the new junction.
The new N69 will be a grade-separated single carriageway road, with a roundabout west of Askeaton. It is still not confirmed whether the new N21 element will be a motorway, but it will almost certainly be built to sufficient specifications to make this possible. The new road flows from the old at the M20 Attyflin junction without any roundabouts. The N21/N69 scheme requires a very large number of over and underpasses for a relatively short scheme - 22 are visible on the map, in addition to 3 interchanges.
Another video has been placed on Youtube showing footage of the N25 New Ross bypass under construction. The video is mostly of the bridge abutments.
Update 21/05/2017: Planning permission has been lodged for the M28 Ringaskiddy road. The dedicated site has been updated, and detailed drawings are here. A text-based description is in this document.
Interestingly, it seems that the whole route has been submitted as motorway (from the site: "10.9km of mainline motorway from Bloomfield to Barnahely"), and not just from Carr's Hill south. Since this conflicts with previous announcements and descriptions, it may be that they know it will get knocked back a bit so are highballing it to start with.
A service area, located within the Port of Ringaskiddy where the scheme begins, is also included, and appears on p.21 of the above PDF drawings document. Since it is described there as "LV & HV SERVICE AREA" (light vehicle and heavy vehicle), it seems that it is intended only for trucks and not general traffic. This is also evident from the parking arrangements in the diagram.
A concession made during community consultation is to retain the offramp at Mount Oval, which only serves that estate, though greatly lengthened and improved. Residents of this area will not be able to make the reverse movement, however, so for commuter traffic this ramp will only be useful in the PM rush hour. It is possible that an overbridge may eventually need to be provided here to add the missing movement.
The existing N28 will be retained from Maryborough Hill south. A new connector between Carrigaline Road and Maryborough Hill (map) will be provided. North of here the existing road will be subsumed into the motorway so non-motorway traffic will need to divert. The new route for Maryborough Hill traffic onto the M28 northbound will be somewhat convoluted. Motorists will need to use the new connector to get south to Carrigaline Road, then use the new roundabout to enter the M28 northbound, and basically come back up the way they came. Issues such as these have resulted in some opposition to the road, which seems to lack numbers but is no less vocal.
Update 08/05/2017: Further concrete details on the plan to develop a Galway City bypass have been made available. The last city in Ireland to be bypassed - and arguably an even more crucial project than the bypasses of some other large settlements in the state - will be "shovel-ready" by 2021 and, if started that year, would be completed by 2024. A planning application will be lodged this summer. From the article:
ARUP Consultant Engineers, told a meeting of the City Council late last year, that the project would be 'shovel ready' by 2021 and be completed three years later, subject to planning approval.Note that funding has not yet been announced - at nearly €600M, this won't be cheap. Although this project appeared in the 2015 Capital Expenditure Plan for infrastructure, it was listed as a project that would be "progressed" during the timeframe - i.e, not necessarily funded and commenced construction by the plan's end in 2021. A new plan will surely replace the current one in that year and the bypass must be one of the first items to move to construction.
Intriguingly, a motorway order has also been issued. Before, it was confirmed the road would be "urban motorway" but this didn't necessarily mean there would be motorway traffic restrictions, just that the physical standard of the road would be identical to a motorway. It isn't specified which parts will be motorway - we must wait until Q3 this year to find out when the order maps will be made available.
To sighs of relief all round, it was reported today that the legal challenge over the current group of three motorway service areas (MSAs) has been dropped in the Commercial Court. This has been going on for around 2 years. Although the MSAs had their on and offslips built and ready by mid-2015, and in one case the forecourt was completed and ready for fit-out, the sites never opened to traffic and have lain empty for the last 2 years. In the case of the completed facility, a 24/7 security presence was required to prevent break-ins, a shocking waste of money - €14,000 a month.
The article confirms that all 3 facilities will be completed and opened within a year. The locations are east of Athlone on the M6, Kilcullen on the M9, and Gorey on the M11. Hopefully the TII will then continue with the next tranche of MSAs - there is still none on the very long M7 or M8. As reported a year ago, the next 3 will be "on the M3, the southern half of the M18, and the M6 immediately east of Galway".
Update 06/05/2017: A tender for construction of the Dunkettle Interchange east of Cork city has been issued. This huge interchange will create a 43-structure freeflow connection between the N8, N40 and N25, currently served by a large roundabout. Numerous changes to surrounding roads and junctions will also be made, including the reinstatement of the old road which was severed upon the completion of the current layout, but as a one-way slip road allowing Cork City to Junction 1A (Little Island) access. This lane will run parallel to the railway line that also traverses the site and can be spotted here and here. Diagrams are here and a layout document is here.
Officially this scheme will not start until 2019 but it seems increasingly likely this could happen in late 2018, which is good news for the chronically-congested area.
Although a route alignment for the M20 parallel to the existing N20 was established many years ago, there have been repeated calls recently to re-examine alternatives. One idea that has floated around for many years is to build the new motorway between Mitchelstown and Limerick and use the existing M8 from there to Cork (map). Another idea is to upgrade the N24 Limerick-Cahir and direct traffic from Limerick along the new road and then use the M8 from Cahir to Cork (map). This would be far, far longer than the current N20 route, though it would have the advantage that the Limerick-Waterford route would be greatly improved too. There are plans to eventually do this anyway, as well as the Cork-Waterford road.
Plans to upgrade the N11/M11 west and south of Bray have been talked about for years, and recently the TII released another study of the corridor. The main report is here and the appendices here. PDF pages 58-68 of the appendices document detail potential improvements to increase the capacity of the route. The Journal has summarised the situation. Since the plan isn't included in the current round of Government transport investment, however, little can happen for the foreseeable future.
The M17/M18 motorway is looking nearly finished according to prolific Boards poster "M17". The Tuam Bypass element is particularly advanced. It certainly looks like Tuam's new road will open within months, and not in 2018 as officially advertised.
Apologies for listing all the 2017 updates as "2016" - this has now been corrected.
Update 03/04/2017: There is now news coming out that the Tuam bypass may open in advance of the rest of the M17/M18 scheme:
The Tuam bypass is being constructed along with the M17/M18 motorway and was due to be open in November but now there is a belief that this section may be brought into use much earlier.However, as yet, there has been no official confirmation of this from the government.
Update 26/03/2017: The latest pictures of the N25 New Ross bypass are showing significant progress in the construction of major structures. The pylons for the centrepiece bridge haven't yet taken shape though.
Update 16/03/2017: The traffic count graphs have all been updated for 2016. The increases on routes such as the M50 and N7 are quite startling. The information is sourced from www.nratrafficdata.ie.
Update 31/01/2017: Three high quality photos of the bridge over the River Barrow that forms part of the N25 New Ross project have been put up on Boards. They show the abutments that the bridge ends will be launched from. These look about ready to start taking bridge supports.
Update 07/01/2017: Some amazing aerial photos have appeared on Boards of the Rathmorrissy M6/M17/M18 interchange under construction east of Galway. They were probably taken with a drone and are well worth checking out.
The road scheme funding allocations for 2017 have been reported on Boards. The source information was taken from here (TII Allocations 2017) and summarised. Although nothing is officially planned to start construction in 2018, but many schemes will in 2019, it seems that a few schemes are going to be very close to construction by end 2017 judging from the funding allocations. In particular this would include:
- N4 Collooney to Castlebaldwin
- N5 Westport to Turlough
- N22 Macroom to Ballyvourney
It seems hard to believe that these will not start until 2019. They will almost certainly be shovel ready by the end of this year.
The small N59 Moycullen Bypass is receiving €2M which may be enough to nudge it over the line before long.
Also, a part of N56 Tralee-Dingle will be able to start this year.
It is noteworthy that planning has restarted on a few Donegal schemes, a county with a backlog of road schemes. These projects have been moribund for years now.
Intriguingly, a small €300k allowance has been granted for the "N3 Upgrade near Dublin". It was mentioned in a Dublin Transport investment plan recently that the short non-motorway part of this dual carriageway near Dublin was slated to be upgraded to motorway by around 2030, so it looks like some movement may be taking place on this now.
Update 18/12/2016: A few details about the N6 Galway Bypass have now been confirmed by consultants. It seems it was planned as a basic 2+2 dual carriageway but it has now been decided to go ahead with full HQDC (high quality dual carriageway) including a concrete central barrier and stopping lanes. In order to reduce cost and improve ease of operation, the two tunnel elements have been shortened. The tunnel under the Galway Racecourse has been reduced from 840 metres to 230, and the one at Lackagh from 530m to 240. These reductions were achieved through realignment.
There is also a solid starting date, 2021, though this is subject to planning permission being granted without delays. This date would see the highway completed by 2024. There will be a glass noise barrier on the bridge deck as the road crosses the River Corrib. The finalised cost will be €593 million.
Update 19/11/2016: A newsletter has been released detailing progress so far on the N25 New Ross bypass scheme. Although large-scale works have yet to begin, the centrepiece bridge is being designed in detail and :
"The construction works for the River Barrow Bridge are progressing with emphasis currently on foundations and ground works. The excavations for foundations and access roads at the three bridge piers on the Kilkenny side of the river are ongoing. On the Wexford side of the river, works are developing around the foundations of the piers located on the eastern bank."An aerial photo of the Wexford side is here.
The M11 Enniscorthy Bypass is reported to have made a lot of progress on construction of minor structures such as culverts with major structures starting soon. The trace on the landscape of the future motorway is clear with all topsoil cleared. The images show some examples.
Detailed plans have been placed online for the Galway Bypass. There will be a short tunnelled section at the Galway Racecourse and a viaducted part over the limestone landscape north of Menlough. Many houses are in the way and will be demolished.
The speculation on whether the Tuam Bypass will open ahead of the rest of the Tuam-Gort scheme continues. Since the whole scheme is being built under a legal contract, it seems unlikely as the contract would have to be amended. We could end up with the bypass reaching completion next year but having to remain unopened until the finalisation date of February 2018.
The TII (Transport Infrastructure Ireland) sat with the Government transport committee recently and a poster on Boards has summarised the 2-hour video for our information. Certain schemes have ongoing design but no funding available within the current capital plan period (up to 2021). Some highlights:
N52 Ardee Bypass is shovel ready but not greenlit.
N4 Mullingar-Longford dual carriageway is shelved for now.
N5 Ballaghaderreen to Scramogue is being designed but no funding.
M20 Cork-Limerick: Restarted. Expected to move to planning permission by 2020. N72 Mallow Bypass expected to be bundled in.
M21/N69 Limerick-Foynes: Will move to planning permission next year.
N22 Ballyvourney-Macroom: Site preparation next year.
N60 Castlebar-Claremorris: Will be done as minor schemes, but no funding.
M8/N40/N25 Dunkettle: Construction will start in 2019.
Update 31/10/2016: The N6 Galway Bypass is making progress, slowly but surely. Some news has been posted on the official site - it is expected that planning permission will be sought in 2017, and detailed plans will be made available in the next few weeks as negotiations with landowners are wrapped up. Looking beyond that it seems we could see this move to construction by 2019/2020.
Update 18/10/2016: A further stage has been reached in the development of the N4 Collooney-Castlebaldwin dual carriageway, with the publication of the tender for engineering consultancy for the scheme. On 17/03/2016 on this site it was announced that the ground investigation works contract had gone out. The project certainly looks like it will start construction by 2018.
Budget 2017 was announced but there is little to be excited about for next year. It was confirmed that the M7 widening project and the Grangecastle Business Park access roads will be the only two major schemes to go ahead to construction in 2017.
Update 27/09/2016: The N15 Ballybofey-Stranorlar (Twin Towns) bypass was refused planning permission some years ago. So much time has now passed that the TII is demanding that studies be redone. This will set back this project many more years:
"Cllr Liam Blaney says new studies are being demanded by Transport Infrastructure Ireland, formerly the National Roads Authority, on three projects ; the Manorcunningham Roundabout to Lifford Road, the Twin Towns bypass and the Bonagee Link."It has been confirmed here that the N22 Ballyvourney-Macroom scheme will start in Q1 2020:
"Shane Ross: There was a question on the Ballyvourney-Macroom road. Perhaps Mr. Mullaney could respond."
"Mr. Dominic Mullaney: The question of whether it can be accelerated will depend on next year's mid-term review and, perhaps, on the budget available to the TII next year. It is due to start in the first quarter of 2020, but it could be brought forward if additional money were available."The TII has announced Tranche 4 of the motorway service area development. This will provide service areas on the M3 between Clonee and Blundelstown, the M18 between Sixmilebridge and Ennis and the M6 between Oranmore and Athenry. A map showing all existing and planned MSAs is also on that site.
The situation with the other 3 tranches are as follows:
M1 Lusk, M1 Castlebellingham, M4 Enfield: Open
M9 Kilcullen, M11 Gorey, M6 East Athlone : Built but not open, tied up in court
N28 Ringaskiddy and N69 Foynes to Limerick : To be built when these new roads are constructed in the next 5 years
Update 19/09/2016: Atkins has been awarded the contract to build the M7 Naas-M9 widening project. They expect to start "early to mid-2017" and be done by end 2019.
Separately, a large pharmaceutical company, GE Healthcare, will kick off construction early next year of a medical manufacturing campus at Ringaskiddy, Cork. This can only increase the pressure to deliver the M28 Cork-Ringaskiddy motorway.
Update 04/09/2016: A comprehensive 90-minute video presentation by TII (Transport Infrastructure Ireland) and hosted by Engineers Ireland was done in May of this year. It covers public transport (in Dublin) as well as national roads throughout the country and is well worth watching the whole way through. The presentation itself is here.
The most interesting part (from 42:22 to 55:55) covers briefly each major road scheme coming up during the current 2015-2022 investment programme. For each, it states the cost, the length and the standard - though it's a bit light on start dates. It confirms the standards the N21/N69 scheme elements will be constructed to. There will be no motorway sections. The N21 will be standard dual carriageway (D2AP) and the N69 single carriageway.
Update 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.