M6 Athlone Southern Bypass

Could open : 2040 Status : Uncommitted
M6 Motorway Logo


Motorway : 7.2 km

In 1991, Athlone was bypassed to the north with a grade-separated dual carriageway. Control of access was high, with no frontage breaks, although cyclists and pedestrians were permitted due to the lack of motorway regulations. Unfortunately, tight bends at either end meant that safety and speed limits weren't as high as they could be, and in the motorway redesignation rounds of 2008 and 2009, Athlone was shortlisted but missed out. It was clear that it just wasn't up to scratch. Nonetheless, motorways were connected to either end from 2007 to 2010, creating a long distance Dublin-Galway route of which the Athlone Bypass was the central stopover. The bypass's speed limit remained at 100 km/h, reflecting its lower standard than adjacent segments.

The route's double function as town distributor and long distance expressway mean that a major rebuild would be needed to adequately separate them, and this would in any case still leave the tight bends. The only truly ideal answer is to build a second bypass to the south of the town that leaves the current one for local traffic movements only. Since this would cut the corner, it would in fact shorten the through-distance somewhat, from 9.4 to 7.2 kilometres. With no intermediate junctions, it would also be faster and safer. The time saving is small (2 mins*), but the safety improvement could be significant.

The new route would be M6, which would require the existing Athlone bypass to be renumbered. In 1994, the former N64 was renumbered to a new part of the N18. This number could be reused for the Athlone bypass.

* 9.4 km at 100 km/h takes 5'38
  7.2 km at 120 km/h takes 3'36

Wikipedia page on this road


Origin M6, east of Athlone
Terminates M6, west of Athlone
Places Served -
Routes Spawned -
Intersects -


Please take a minute to answer a very short survey on your opinion of this road proposal.

JupiterKid from Ireland rates this scheme 5/10 and its alignment 8/10. He has the following comments to make:
"This would be a useful scheme, but realistically is a long way off, if it's ever built. The main problems as I see them are twofold - the ground over which the scheme traverses is very low lying and forms part of the Shannon callows. There would be some pretty big engineering challenges building this road over flood-prone and boggy ground. Also, the road, because it would cross the Shannon callows, would come under heightened environmental scrutiny.

The second problem with the road is that it would not serve any readily developable land adjacent to Athlone town in terms of access and whilst this would actually be good for long distance traffic, it would be opposed by local politicans keen to play the land rezoning game."
A person from the UK has rated the scheme. They gave it 4/10 and the alignment 9/10. The standard seems to be about right but they have made this comment:
"Too expensive."
Fionnan Boyne from Ireland isn't into it, rating this 4/10 and its alignment 3/10:
"Should be lower spec. Athlone already has a bypass."
Someone else from Ireland thinks this is a good idea; rating the scheme and the alignment 8/10:
"The safety of this scheme is very well put together."
A person from Ireland doesn't think this is a good idea, but at least the alignment is good. They rate the scheme 1/10 and its route 10/10. They have this to say:
"Everyone would continue to use the old bypass."
Someone from the USA rates this idea 7/10 and the alignment 10/10.

We've got a hater who rated this 1/10 on both counts:
"Not necessary. If existing bypass is at the end of its capacity, an upgrade to 6 lanes would be preferred - much cheaper and much less environmental impact."