Could Open : Kells-Mullingar 2020; Birr-Nenagh 2020; Ardee-Kells 2025; Mullingar-Tullamore 2030; Tullamore-Birr 2040
Status : Some parts under consideration
Dual Carriageway : 35.8 km (Mullingar-Tullamore); Single Carriageway : 100.3 km (Ardee-Kells-Mullingar and Tullamore-Nenagh)
It is difficult to make cross country trips in Ireland that don't involve Dublin in some way, as the road network is radial. Two very useful and complementary routes forming an X would involve a northeast-southwest dual carriageway, and a northwest-southeast route. The existing northeast-southwest route is the N52.
The N52 allows movement between Belfast, Newry and Dundalk down to Limerick and Shannon without passing through Dublin. Along the way, the road skirts past Kells, with the eponymous book, Mullingar, Tullamore, the very chilly Birr and Nenagh.
The central section from Mullingar to Tullamore has seen complete replacement with a new (though single-carriage) route in the last number of years, including a bypass of Tullamore. As of 2012, the penultimate part north of the M6 was completed, leaving only the Tullamore-Kilbeggan link (a new road between the M6 and Tullamore). All this is due to the designation in the government's National Spatial Strategy that Athlone, Mullingar and Tullamore formed a single unit and upgrading transport links between them therefore became a goal. Although this plan was never properly followed, the goal of improving links between these neighbouring towns was a worthwhile one.
As for the rest of the N52 route, however, construction is not planned and is therefore a long way off. Some minor realignments have taken place recently, such as a Macetown north of Mullingar.
The proposed cross-section is dualling for the Mullingar-Tullamore section, due to traffic levels, and single for the rest. The dual section would be online except for a new route across the M6 and to the west of Tullamore, greatly shortening the distance. The single carriageway segments would follow the existing route; one noteworthy change is that the N52 would proceed north from the N4 at Mullingar at junction 15 instead of 16, simplifying the route.
As for numbering, this route provides connectivity between a large number of towns and other routes. 52 is a secondary route number and is not befitting of such an important route. At the northeastern end, that part of the road that connects the M1 to the N2 is already numbered 33, a primary designation. The whole N52 route should be renumbered N33 to reflect its importance.
Full disclosure: In March 2013 this page was changed. The route was originally all proposed as dual carriageway and known as "N52 Nenagh-M1". Now it is mostly single and is renamed.
Please take a minute to answer a very short survey on your opinion of this road proposal.
Medoc from Ireland rates this scheme 7/10 and its alignment 7/10; and reckons the standard is about right: "Dual carriageway is about right. 2+2 not HQDC." He continues:
"The N80 from the M7 to Tullamore should also be 2+2 DC in addition to this scheme."
Note that I do propose some dual sections for the N80 in a separate proposal, though not consistently for the whole route due to low traffic volumes.
Anonymous from Ireland really likes this scheme as they rate it 10/10 and its alignment 10/10. They reckon the standard is about right:
"Mullingar To Kells must have work done, daily commuter from Delvin To Mullingar witness very high level of trucks."
Micmac from Ireland rates both this scheme and its alignment 2/10. He thinks the spec should be higher, "as Tullamore bypass."
"It's crazy. It is to a great standard in places (Birr-Mullingar) and bits in W'Meath but why at this time construct to very different standards? Nenagh bypass has no shoulders badly comparing with other new sections. Would someone explain why Tipp North are currently (Jan 2012) widening an existing 2 m footpath to over 3 m and still no shoulder. Incidentally, they also wasted a bag of money putting in unneeded roundabouts on this section. Bits of Borrisokane to Birr upgraded to no standard whatever. Has anyone examined the on-ramp at southern end to M7 south? Attempted murder. good, bad and indifferent but when improvements carried out they should be to a uniform modern standard. After all it's the Belfast Cork road, or should be."
This long commentary seems to be broadly in favour of upgrades along this route, however - so it seems the 2/10 ratings are mistaken. Additionally, saying the spec should be higher "like the Tullamore bypass" is odd, as the proposal here is for dual carriageway for the route - but the Tullamore bypass is a single carriageway.
Ronan from the USA thinks the idea for such a scheme is great (10/10) but would choose a different alignment (rating mine 1/10). He has this comment to make:
"I think from Cavan to Thurles would be more beneficial, north and south to cross interconnecting motorways making a more USA-like cross section. What do you think of that?"
Although I agree his suggested route links motorways up nicely, it does not do a good job of providing access to and from Belfast, which is the ultimate aim of my proposal. My routing ends at the east-coast M1 motorway precisely because the intention is to link into a road leading to Belfast.
RM from Ireland likes this scheme (10/10) but reckons the alignment needs work (2/10). He has a lot to say on this scheme:
"Should be higher spec... Single lane would be fine if all the sharp bends at the bottom of hills were sorted, wide single lane for agri machinery to drive in and bicycles. They do bits of the road and then it tapers into the old road with someone's piers[pillars?] in the way. They should CPO the land now and do it when they have the money."
"Thurles to Birr road [the N62] is ridiculous. It's classed as secondary. It's fourth in my view. I'm sick of going out to mangled cars and vans with people hanging out of them outside my house."
An Irish person thinks this is needed (9/10 on both counts). They have this to say:
"Should be higher spec. It should [be] dual carriageway."
Computerfan0 from Ireland rates this 8/10 and the alignment 10, but thinks it should be higher spec: "2+2 road".