Single Carriageway : 65.5 km; Dual Carriageway : 46.7 km. Total: 112.2 km
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 northwest-southeast route currently consists of the N61 and the N80.
The northern (N61) part would only be single carriageway and was slated to be improved to the required standard between Boyle at the N4 and Athlone at the M6 until the scheme was suspended in the spending review of 2010. However, it is safe to assume that it will be reactivated in future when economic fortunes are better.
Following the M6 for several kilometres, then dipping down to Tullamore, the N80 dual carriageway would start southeast of the town and continue to the southeast of the island, passing Portlaoise and the M7, narrowing to single carriageway towards Carlow and the M9, before finishing up at Enniscorthy and the future M11.
Described here is a new route for the N80. This route would be dual carriageway from Tullamore to Portlaoise due to the amount of trip combinations this part would need to handle. The rest would be single apart from the Carlow bypass. There would be a deviation at the N80/N81 junction. (Other changes proposed for the N81 are discussed elsewhere.) The Portlaoise bypass would pass the town to the east, intersect the M7 at junction 16, and finish west of Stradbally. To cater for trips originating from south of Portlaoise, another dual carriageway (as a Regional road) would be built around the west of the town. It is marked in brown in the below map. The Carlow dual carriageway would form a western bypass of the town before terminating at junction 5 of the M9.
The final feature is a deviation that reconfigures the N80 at the point where it intersects the N81 road (Dublin-Tullow via Blessington). The N80 would be rerouted to run directly east from the M9 to pass immediately to the south of Tullow, before following the alignment of the current N81 south and resuming an easterly routing along the N80 as far as Enniscorthy. This deviation is intended to reduce the length of new road to be provided and to enhance Tullow's access to the N80.
Due to the lack of a definite need for any of these schemes in the next decade or two, it is unlikely that a major rebuild of the N80 will take place before 2030. The N61 improvements may happen sooner if the suspended Athlone-Boyle scheme is ever reactivated.
Please take a minute to answer a very short survey on your opinion of this road proposal.
Anon from Ireland really likes this scheme, rating it 9/10 and its alignment 9/10, but reckons the standard should be even higher:
"Scheme should be built to Dual Carriageway standard."
Note that the scheme as defined above features some dual carriageway near major towns, but the bulk is single carriageway.
A person rates this 8/10 on both counts but thinks it should be higher spec:
"I would dual from Carlow to Enniscorthy. This could serve as part of the Outer Orbital."
Good idea! Such a route can't go further to the north because of mountains in the way.
Medoc rates this 9/10 on both counts:
"Good idea. And the standard is about right.
One point is that you've shown the road around Tullamore passing straight through Charleville castle demense.
This wouldn't be allowed as it's a European protected area and caused the original N52 Bypass to be altered.
The route should pass through the roundabout at the end of the Mucklagh bypass.
With a link road to connect up with the R443 around the town."
This is a good point - so I have amended the map to avoid Charleville Castle demesne.
A person has rated this 7 and the alignment 5:
"2+1 Tullamore bypass is ok as it is.
Carlow bypass needs upgrading, but both could be done using present alignment rather than additional land take.
The N80 between Tullamore and Portlaoise is indeed one of the worst.
And Portlaoise bypass is important."