NEWS ARCHIVE

Update 17/09/2015: There was been much back-and-forth from the government in recent weeks as the details of upcoming transport investment are hammered out. With the slight easing of budgetary restraints as the crisis finally ebbs away, every government department is trying to grab a slice of the pie.
An article in the Irish Mail on Sunday, reproduced in scans in a Boards.ie post, spills the beans regarding road investment. Although there are no firm details in the piece, enough can be gleaned to put together a list:

- M20 Mallow Bypass
- M7 Widening Naas-M9
- N5 Turlough-Westport (dual carriageway)
- N17 Knock-Tobercurry

These are of course in addition to items that are already programmed such as N25 New Ross and M11 Enniscorthy bypasses. These will commence this year or early next year.
We will have to wait until just before the 2016 budget is announced on 13th October to find out the final list.


Update 30/07/2015: A computer animation of the proposed Galway Outer Bypass has been put up on Youtube. It is very effective at conveying the large scale of the project. The tunnels that may form part of the final route are included. It features a high enough level of detail to enable buildings in the path of the road to be identified. In some areas, remaining houses will be very close to the route. Since the final design of the road is not yet complete, when it comes to construction, it could take a slightly different alignment from the one shown.

Update 13/07/2015: The M11 Arklow-Rathnew motorway opened today after 25 months of construction. Here are the NRA and Dept of Transport articles. Skycam Ireland has taken several beautiful aerial shots which are embedded on Boards here.

It is 16 km long and upgrades junctions 17 to 20 to motorway standard. It replaces a winding section of single carriageway with a high accident rate. It is the first new section of motorway to open in the country since November 2010 when a section of the M18 opened between Galway and Limerick. The next will be sometime in 2017 when another new segment of M11 opens at Enniscorthy.

Both today's section and the future Enniscorthy bypass also constitute new sections of Euroroute E01. Back in May, another section of this euroroute opened in Northern Ireland when the A8 Larne dual carriageway was completed.

Update 29/06/2015: Last year, it was announced on this site on 7th July 2014 that EU policy on key transport routes including port access routes would mean that, amongst others, the N69 Limerick-Foynes road would be upgraded since Foynes port has been designated a Core Port under the Trans European Networks legislation. A new website has published some proposed route alignments (reposted here). The scheme brochure is on this page of the site.

The red route mostly parallels the existing N69, while the other colours make various attempts to also upgrade the N21. It seems that the blue route achieves the best mix of serving to create a new Limerick-Foynes route that reuses some of the existing parallel M20 and includes a much-needed bypass of Adare. With a connection point at Rathkeale, it also makes Foynes easily accessible from the Kerry direction. The part that bypasses Adare covers a northerly route, which is necessary as a southern alignment for this was refused planning permission a while back due to the environmentally sensitive areas that it ran through. It had originally been bundled in with the northern half of the proposed M20 Limerick-Cork motorway.

Another advantage is that the whole of the existing N69 Limerick-Foynes road is avoided. The village of Askeaton lies along this, but is already bypassed anyway, so there was no need to keep any existing sections. The downside of removing the direct N69 in favour of a route that utilises the M20 and N21 is the longer distance: 48 km instead of 38, but this is greatly offset by the improvement in quality and safety of the route and reduced journey times.

As for the standard to which this combined N21/N69 project will be built, the N69 part will be either single or dual carriageway. Since the N21 section connects directly to the M20 at Patrickswell, it may be motorway and will be dual carriageway at the very least. There is a longer term plan to upgrade the whole N21 as far as Abbeyfeale to dual carriageway, so it seems that the Limerick-Foynes upgrade is taking the opportunity to get some of this done at the same time.

The map on this site has been updated (zoom into the Limerick area) with the blue route and the above guesses at design standards.

The preferred route will be announced by the end of the year, with detailed design and negotiation with affected landowners to follow in 2016. With EU support, hopefully we will see this scheme fast-tracked, more for the sake of traffic-choked Adare than Foynes.

Update 23/06/2015: The Cork area has a large backlog of road projects (illustrated on this map) that require urgent work in order to bring Ireland's second city up to scratch. It now seems that 3 of these major projects may come to fruition within the next few years - the M8/N25/N40 Dunkettle Interchange, the N28 (possibly M28) Ringaskiddy port access road, and the N22 Ballyvourney-Macroom dual carriageway. A non-national relief road for Carrigaline is also on the table.

Of these, the N22 is mainly about safety on this treacherous section of twisting single carriageway between Cork and the main towns of Kerry, Dunkettle is for congestion relief, and the N28 to Ringaskiddy is mainly about serving the rapidly expanding port there - with the closure of Cork Port, this is even more urgent now than ever. Ringaskiddy is at the heart of Ireland's high value-add chemical industry. The timeline given in the article of 6-8 years for the road is too long as the upgrade has been needed for years already. It can only be hoped that it will be delivered sooner.

Update 13/06/2015: The International Traffic Safety Data and Analysis Group (IRTAD) has released their 2014 report which covers accident statistics for OECD countries as of end-2012. Stats for Ireland are detailed from PDF page 255. Road fatalities had been on a downward trajectory since 2005, bottoming at 162. Although not in the report, 2013 and 2014 saw increases, though not major by historical standards. These should not take away from the very substantial fall in figures seen over a longer period - in 1990, there were 478 fatalities per year, despite the number of cars nationwide being only 40% of their 2010 level.

Table 3 on page 259 shows that children hardly ever die in car accidents nowadays, most of the fatalities being in the 25-64 age group. Figure 3 on p.260 says that most pedestrian fatalities are over 65, and it can be concluded from Figure 4 on p.261 that the biggest reduction in deaths per road type has been on urban roads. Finally, on p.266, figure 5 indicates the 2020 targets: 2.5 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants and under 106 fatalities nationwide - there is some way to go in achieving these figures, which would make our roads amongst the safest in the world.

In other news, it now seems that the M11 Enniscorthy and N25 New Ross bypass projects, due to start later this year, may be delayed into 2016. In fact, the Enniscorthy Bypass now may start first as there has been a delay with the contract for New Ross.

Update 09/06/2015: People who live near the construction areas of the M17 and M18 motorways have been taking pictures of the sites: (1), (2) and (3). There is also some excellent drone footage of the sites, mainly around Tuam, and this hilarious Shawshank Redemption-style commentary on the new project.

In other news, design and CPOs (compulsory purchase orders) are complete for the N5 Westport-Turlough dual carriageway. It is likely this scheme will start next year judging by how fast things have been moving. The plans can be seen here. Plans are also available for the N22 Farranfore-Killarney single carriageway road, viewable here. Mapping of these schemes on this site has been updated.

Update 19/05/2015: Galway County Council have put up a detailed map of the proposed Galway Bypass. It is high enough resolution to be able to see specific houses that will face demolition and all of the movements that will be available at the Doughiska junction where the bypass will commence at the end of the N6 from Dublin.
This junction will indeed require you to turn off to stay on if you want to follow N6->N6 as the mainline will flow to and from the existing bypass, not the new one. The interchange will be complex with seemingly all potential movements catered for, including a few surprising ones like existing bypass east to new bypass west (a 180 degree turn).

Update 17/05/2015: Although there has not been an official announcement, it is clear that the Newlands Cross interchange (number 1A) on the N7 Naas Road is now complete - confirmed by a poster on Boards, and personal observation. The main 6-lane flyover component opened back on the 20th November. Since then all the work has consisted of side road tie-ins and a major rebuild of the Fonthill and Belgard approaches to the junction.

Since part of the site is visible in one of the views on Dublin Traffic Cams, I have created a timelapse video of the progress of construction over the last 2 years or so. Enjoy.

The completion of this junction removes the last set of traffic lights on the road from Dublin to the second and third biggest cities in the country. It is long-awaited, having missed funding the first time around when most other motorways nationwide were being built at a rapid pace. When these opened in 2010, we were then left with this traffic-light controlled junction on a 6-lane dual carriageway. This anomaly has now been cleared up, to the relief of motorists both on the Naas Road and the perpendicular Belgard and Fonthill Roads.

In other news, contrary to what I speculated before, the N17 Tuam Bypass will probably not open in advance of the rest of the M17/M18 motorway project. This is according to the FAQ section on the scheme's website, under the heading "Will there be any phased opening of the new route?"

Update 07/05/2015: Today, the emerging preferred route for the new Galway Bypass was announced. The PDF map is here. RTE have details surrounding the plans. I have updated this site's map of the route too. It seems that Galway City Council got their wish and the bypass is quite far from the city centre and the existing bypass. The existing bypass approaches within 800 metres of Eyre Square, the historic centre of Galway; the closest approach of the new bypass will be 2.8 km. The new road is mostly a dual carriageway except for the western end which will have sparser traffic and be single carriageway with roundabouts. In all, the new bypass consists of 10.9 km of dual carriageway and 5.5 km of single.

To the east, the road begins right at the existing terminus of the most recently built parts of the N6/M6 at Doughiska where there is a large roundabout joining the new roads to the current bypass. The roundabout will be replaced with a complex interchange providing access to four roads - the existing and new bypasses to the north, the existing R446 to the south, and the N6 heading east to the M6.

Perhaps oddly, the existing N6 to existing bypass will be the main flow here - traffic arriving from the east will have to turn off to enter the new bypass, and vice versa. This detail alone puts the final nail in the idea that the new bypass might be a motorway continuation of the M6 - if it was, traffic would probably have to pass through lights or roundabouts to continue to the new route. The large new junction features a lot of loops and turning slips which look rather small and tight.

There will be three major junctions - with the N59, the N84, and surprisingly, with the N17. Previously it was planned that the bypass would have no junction with the N17 Tuam Road, partly in order to force bypass traffic onto the M6 and the new M17 which is currently under construction instead. This in turn was because the village of Claregalway is badly in need of a bypass, but none is forthcoming. Surely the new junction with the Tuam Road will now mean that a Claregalway bypass will be essential, since no traffic in the city centre or west of Doughiska will use the M17 to get to Tuam.

In addition, the N17 Tuam Road junction will be a double-junction, also featuring slips to a new distributor road that will link the Parkmore and Ballybrit industrial estates.

Most controversially, the new bypass will feature two tunnels in order to avoid damaging an area of limestone pavement and the Galway Racecourse. However, since the surface cannot be disturbed, this will mean that both tunnels will have to be drilled - an expensive option compared to cutting and covering. These tunnels are both being done to placate opposition and don't make a lot of sense from a practical or cost perspective.

According to the RTE article, there will be around 45 houses under threat of demolition due to the plans. In particular, at the N59 crossover, most of the houses visible in this aerial view will need to be entirely demolished, including a group of new houses called Ard An Locha. This is unfortunate, and emphasises the importance of forward planning for route alignments for infrastructure. Otherwise, a swathe of destruction may need to be cut through an urban area. However, note that the detailed design of the route has not been decided, and the exact pieces of land and property that will be needed to build it are not yet set in stone.

The road between the N6 at Doughiska and the N59 is an 8 km dual carriageway, and probably a high-quality one. However, the dual standard only continues further west another 2.9 kilometres as far as Ballymoneen Road. From here, it narrows to a 5.5 km single carriageway road with roundabouts, but intersections with minor roads all seem to be bridged. In all, there will only be 4 roundabouts along this section, with presumably no access at all to the rest.

Finally, some guesses as to numbering. Since the existing bypass is only numbered N6 as far as the N59 junction, it's worth wondering if the new bypass will be the same, with the part from the N59 to Barna a regional road. I am assuming the dual carriageway's new junctions will be numbered 20-23, following the existing sequence.

The next steps will be to move to land purchase and design. The RTE article states that Galway City Council intend to submit planning documents early next year before moving to construction in 2017. If this was followed, the road would open by 2020. It does seem optimistic since as of 2015 there is no secure funding available in any case.

The above text is also reproduced on this site's M6 page, where there is a large map of the scheme.

Update 29/04/2015: The company building the M17/M18 motorway in western Ireland, Direct Route, have released a newsletter detailing their activities so far. According to the pictures in it, seemingly most areas have really only seen topsoil stripping and grading so far, but already some short new road segments have been built to allow overbridges to be constructed, and blasting and drilling of rocky outcrops has begun.
Since the Tuam Bypass element will be constructed to a lower standard (dual carriageway instead of motorway), it is likely based on past form that this part will open first and may be ready within 2 years. The scheduled wrap-up of all works is February 2018.

Update 03/04/2015: To make them easier to spot, I have updated the Current Road Programme map with red stars to mark schemes - roads and motorway service areas - that are under construction. Click here to see the map in a full screen. As usual, the Current page also lists them as "Schemes Currently Under Construction".

Update 01/04/2015: Reports are coming out that two companies that tendered for the large contract to build M17 and M18 road segments from Gort to Tuam, which are currently under construction, are to sue the NRA for misconduct during the auction. (No, this isn't an April Fools!)
It is alleged that the NRA supplied sensitive information to the preferred bidder, DirectRoute, which gave that bidder an unfair competitive advantage.
The two companies in question are BAM and Balfour Beatty, who had formed a joint venture for the bidding war.
This doesn't appear to have any impact on the construction of the scheme, however. It is likely that the NRA will simply have to pay up compensation and some road schemes might be delayed due to reduced funding.

Update 21/03/2015: Back on 16th May 2013, as reported here, the N40/N25/M8 Dunkettle interchange received planning permission. Its cost of €100M has remained unfunded.

However, the possibility of using a PPP funding model is being examined by Cork County Council. This would combine the interchange with a bypass of Macroom, presumably as a stopgap until the full M20 motorway from Limerick to Cork is delivered some time after 2020.

There will be a General Election next spring and it is common for large infrastructure projects to be announced in advance in order to curry favour with voters.

Update 28/02/2015: The Galway Bypass project, as detailed here before, has been making progress recently. It isn't proposed to make this road a motorway. However, in the Futures section of this site, I propose that it be designated one in order to protect it from inappropriate development in future.

Although the intention of that page isn't to choose a route for the bypass but to redesignate the route a motorway upon completion, a lot of people have been filling out the survey on the page to give their views. I think most of them are commenting on the route alignment rather than the idea of motorway designation per se, but I still welcome anyone's views on the subject.

The responses to the survey can be found listed on the page, along with any commentary I received. So far, it has received 7 likes, 2 dislikes and 1 lukewarm response.

Update 19/02/2015: The tender for the M11 Enniscorthy bypass has been granted to BAM Iridium, the same company that will build the N25 New Ross scheme. The Wexford people reports it as follows:
The BAM Iridium Consortium has been named as the preferred tenderer for the M11 Gorey to Enniscorthy Public Private Partnership (PPP) Scheme with the contract expected to be signed by this summer.
The same consortium was also announced as the preferred tenderer for the N25 New Ross Bypass PPP scheme in December 2014.
The Bam Iridium consortium will continue to the final stage of the bidding process and it's anticipated that, 'subject to achieving financial close', the M11 contract may be signed between the NRA and the consortium by this summer, with the detailed design and construction starting after that date.
The scheme is composed of several elements and constitutes a major reorganisation of the roads through the town. There will be a 27 km motorway bypass to the east of the town, an 8 km single carriageway linking the N30 and the N80 west of the town, and a 4 km dual carriageway extension of the N80 to the new M11 north of the town. I have updated the Current Status page to add these minor sub-schemes.
Based on the indicated timeline, we will probably see work on the ground starting at the end of the year or early next year.

Update 06/02/2015: Route options for the Galway Transport Project have been put up on the official site. The routes of the potential city bypass are to be found under the sections "Board 6a: Possible Road Component of the Transport Solution".
A poster on Boards has put up a composite map showing all routes overlaid. There is also a poll to gauge the public's opinion. The "public transport component" is listed separately, but ideally a bypass and a public transport upgrade would be provided, not just one or the other.

Finally, as a bit of light relief, another Boards poster has reproduced some choice quotes from the Galway Independent from city councillors relating to the bypass. I particularly like the bit about the state of the art gym.

Update 03/02/2015: It seems that the contract for the N25 New Ross bypass will be awarded this May with work to commence by the end of the summer, as reported by the Irish Independent. The scheme will feature a bridge that will be the longest in the country (at 1 km) and have a height of around 40 m based on Google's Terrain imagery:
'BAM Meridian are the preferred contractors and the tenders will be signed in May. Work will start in mid to late summer and the complete scheme should be finished in 2018 with traffic on it.'
Some additional information with a map is on the N25 page on this site. Note that I have listed this scheme as opening in 2017 as although the article is more pessimistic, I believe it's possible that it could be completed within two to two-and-a-half years from commencement.

Update 24/01/2015: Venerable Northern Ireland Roads Site author Wesley Johnston has recently written a very good post on annual road deaths in Northern Ireland, and how, like in the South, they have been falling in recent years followed by a rise in 2014. He compares the rates of NI, the Republic and Great Britain, and puts 2014's figure down to a statistical anomaly, though of course this would come as cold comfort to any victim's relatives. He considers the reasons for the falling accident rate in all 3 jurisdictions to be increased driver safety, better vehicles, and better road design. Although this is likely to fit northern and southern Ireland's experience, where large-scaled roads are a relatively new phenomenon, it wouldn't explain the fall in accidents on Britain's roads, which have been built to a high standard for many decades.

Finally there is confirmation, according to this Claregalway.info and this Tuam Herald article, that the M17/M18 project start date was indeed planned to be January 15th and evidence on the ground from the last few days would seem to support that.
(Tuam Herald, 26th Nov 2014) WORK will start on the long-awaited Tuam bypass and the M17-M18 motorway on January 15. However it is still not clear whether or not the bypass will be opened ahead of the complete motorway. In early January machinery will start to roll simultaneously on the town bypass and at two other locations further south towards Gort. A spokesperson for the Direct Route consortium confirmed the date to The Tuam Herald this week. "Work will commence on the Tuam bypass both northwards towards the Claremorris side of the town and southwards towards Gort at the same time as we will start work on the other two locations in South Galway," said the spokesperson.
A look at the new Newlands Cross junction on the N7 reveals that it is numbered 1A, not 1B as I expected. I was under the impression that the Luas Park and Ride junction to the east was numbered 1A, but a look at signage on Streetview would refute that as it seems to be unnumbered. I have updated references to Newlands' junction number on this site.

There has been disappointment in Kildare as it has emerged that funding is not forthcoming for the M7 widening and Sallins Bypass scheme, at least for this year. The frustration is palpable in this Kildare Post article. We are promised a revised capital infrastructure spending envelope at the end of 2016 as the Government commit to ending the hated austerity, but it remains to be seen.

Consultation is progressing on the N6 Galway City Transport Project. Seven options are available, a public-transport-only one, an upgrade of the existing N6, and five potential bypass corridors. Details of the public exhibition of the options are now on the official project website and homeowners whose properties lie on corridor options have been officially informed: "Some 300 homeowners have received letters informing them that their dwellings are along the corridors - It has been conceded that regardless of which route is picked between 30 and 130 houses will be demolished." (Connaught Tribune 23 Jan 2015)

Michael Timmins from the project board was interviewed on Galway Bay FM and described in a high level of detail the 5 route options for the bypass and the option in which the existing N6 is upgraded. The latter choice would involve constructing flyovers, cut-and-cover tunnels and parallel frontage roads right through the urbanised area, and would involve the demolition of hundreds of houses and many businesses. A decision on which option will be progressed is expected quite soon, in April. Whichever it is, the project team must be careful to avoid the sensitive habitat areas that scuppered the last bypass. An article on Galway Bay FM's website summarised the situation:
Five alternative corridors have been put forward as part of the N6 Galway City Transport project. A new version of the Galway city outer bypass is back on the table following the rejection of the last plan by the courts, including the European Court of Justice. The proposals were presented to Galway city and county councillors at a special meeting held in the Pillo Hotel this afternoon. The next step will involve public consultation meetings which are due to be held later this month and early next month. In April, the preferred option will be confirmed. (GBFM News, 21 Jan 2015)
Update 20/01/2015: A very enterprising (and rich?) poster on Boards.ie has used his own drone to fly over the construction site of the M11 Wicklow-Arklow motorway. The footage has been uploaded to YouTube. More of this please!

In other good news, it seems finally, an incredible 8 months after contract signing, that work has kicked off on the M17/M18 Tuam-Gort motorway. At 53 km, this is the single largest motorway project the country has ever seen. (The second biggest was M6 Galway-Ballinasloe at 51 km). Although there doesn't seem to be an official announcement, a Boards.ie poster has taken some photos of a work site being prepared near the village of Labane, Galway, at this location: Gmaps, OpenStreetMap. Further to the south, at Gort, a small part of the motorway was built as part of the Ennis-Gort scheme that opened in November 2010, and is visible in Google Streetview. They even have the signage up - optimistically pointing at Galway even though the full motorway there won't open until 2018.

On OpenStreetMap, the big Rathmorrissey interchange, where the M17 becomes the M18 and the M6 passes east to west, is visible. There has been a considerable amount of online discussion on whether this should be a fully free-flowing interchange or if the roundabout is enough. In my opinion traffic levels will mean that a roundabout will certainly be sufficient for a long time, and even if freeflow slips were needed, only the ones passing from the Galway side of the interchange to the north and south (and vice versa) should be built as most turning traffic will be citybound. Two of these would be left-turn slips and two would be more expensive flyover right-turn ones.

Several years ago, there were plans to build a Motorway Services Area accessible from this roundabout which would have made it reachable from all 3 motorways, but also difficult to upgrade the roundabout. This services area was refused planning permission.

Update 14/01/2015: Worryingly, the government seem to be wavering on providing Galway with its much-needed bypass. A new site, N6 Galway City Transport Project, has been launched, and though it still has little content, it talks vaguely about considering all potential transport solutions. (Maps are here.) This is a recognition that the proposed high-quality dual carriageway bypass runs through environmentally sensitive areas, has already been shot down in court, and is likely to be again unless a major change is made in its routing. Its cost, €300 million, is also daunting.

While it's undeniable that Galway has poor-quality public transport, with infrequent bus service and very few bus lanes, the inner bypass is so close to the centre and surrounded by encroached development that no upgrade of it could ever be possible. It seems as if the new study is likely to end up coming back to the same conclusion, that a bypass is needed. Hopefully it will also recommend that significant roadspace be reassigned to buses and bicycle lanes and that a major increase occurs in the frequency of the bus timetable. Galway is not a very large city (around 75,000 people within the city boundary) and its severe congestion problems are certainly not insurmountable.

Also, the page on road standards has been extended with a segment at the end about the Level of Service deployed on Irish trunk roads.

Update 15/12/2014: Thankfully, common sense has prevailed and it has been confirmed by the NRA that the Wicklow-Arklow dual carriageway project, currently under construction, will open as motorway. Consultation with the local community was announced today. This will mean the section will be motorway from day one and signage won't have to be updated later.

Update 20/11/2014: Today, the main flyover component of the much-needed and eagerly-anticipated Newlands Cross interchange project opened to traffic. The Irish Times and Journal.ie have published articles about the opening, and RTE has video with interviews of road users. The new facility has already made a positive impact on people's lives, as the tweets on this page show.

The official opening had been yesterday. A traffic camera captured the ceremony, and RTE ran a short news clip. A couple of weeks ago, a drone flew over the site giving a great bird's eye view.

Work will continue until February or March on the frontage roads and on returning to nature a temporary road created for the duration of the works to the south of the construction zone. The total cost of this scheme and the M11 at Wicklow has been variously reported as €250 and €280M; a figure for this flyover on its own isn't available.

In other news, tenders are due to be submitted in December for the M11 Enniscorthy Bypass, due to start next autumn.

Update 15/11/2014: A date has been finalised for the completion of the Newlands Cross flyover. It will open to traffic on Thursday 20th November.

A great overhead shot is featured in this article where the road is so perfect as to appear computer-rendered.

Update 30/10/2014: The M17/M18 Gort-Tuam motorway has been noteworthy for its lack of activity since the contract was signed back on May 2nd. Repeatedly, work was due to start in a few months only for a deathly silence to follow. Now, galwaybayfm.ie has reported quite confidently that work will commence in January. (I have reproduced the text here as they often move articles around.)
Work on the Gort to Tuam motorway is set to commence in January. Advance ground testing on the long awaited route got underway this month. The motorway is due to open to traffic in 2018 and is expected to ease congestion by bypassing Tuam, Ardrahan, Claregalway, Kilcolgan, Clarinbridge and Gort. In January, substantive work on the route will begin. This will include stripping of topsoil, excavation, fencing and the construction of site compounds. This will take place over three segments - in Tuam, Gort and along the mid-section at Abbeyknockmoy/Athenry. Direct Route, the contracting consortium for the new motorway, includes three Irish companies - Roadbridge, John Sisk, and Lagan Construction. Up to a thousand people are expected to work on the route at peak construction times. It's set to reach completion in November 2017.
Although the article is inconsistent on when the road will actually open, it's likely to take between 30 and 36 months to build which would indeed put its completion date at around November 2017.

Update 13/10/2014: The NRA is slowly building motorway service areas throughout Ireland. The latest pair are covered by "Tranche 2" which includes the ones at Kilcullen on the M9 and the M6 east of Athlone. With construction already underway at Kilcullen since May, the latest news is that work started on the east Athlone facility "in the last couple of weeks" according to a poster on Boards. According to past form, the work can be expected to take 10 months.

Regarding Newlands Cross, I took my own two shots of the flyover. There is one here and a zoomed-in version here.

Update 11/10/2014: The same Boards.ie contributor has outdone himself by uploading a larger collection of more up-to-date photos of the M11 construction site mentioned in a previous post, including some which appear to have been taken from within the building site itself.

They start here and continue for several posts afterwards. As can be seen, the road is at varying levels of completion; some parts are receiving their final surface while others look barely started. Opening is due next summer.

Boards also features a great shot of the Newlands Cross flyover in the distance taken from the Luas Park 'n Ride bridge. The nighttime glows and car taillight trails add to the atmosphere. The work looks done apart from the tie-ins at either end, lining, and signage.

Click to expand >>
Update 11/09/2014: A Boards.ie contributor has uploaded a large number of pictures of the M11 Wicklow-Arklow under construction. It seems to be making very good progress, no doubt aided by the summer's fair weather.

Additionally, other contributors have taken pictures of the Newlands Cross flyover works outside Dublin. Their photos can be found here and here. It can be seen that the flyover itself is mostly surfaced now and is looking likely for an end-October opening. Recent lane reconfigurations have confused motorists but at least there is not much construction left to do.

A notable feature of the space under the overbridge is that one side is sloped and the other vertical-walled (visible in this image). This is because the non-sloped side is planned to take a railway, Metro West, eventually. It could be a very long time before this is built however.

Update 02/09/2014: The N5 Ballaghadereen Bypass has opened. This 13.5 km single-carriageway replaces a significant section of the poor-quality N5 which connects Longford (at the N4) with the west coast at Westport. This road is the primary access route for Mayo's many small and medium-sized towns.

The NRA's press release can be found here, and a youtube poster has uploaded a driving video of it.

Further work is expected on the longer Westport-Turlough and Ballaghaderreen-Longford segments in the coming years.

Update 24/07/2014: An Bord Pleanala (The Irish Planning Board) is due to make a decision whether to grant or deny permission to the M7 Naas-Newbridge Widening scheme and the M7 Osberstown Interchange by the 28th August.

The widening scheme will see a very busy portion of the M7 widened from 4 to 6 lanes, and the complete reconstruction of junction 10. The motorway's tie-in to local roads will be moved from Newbridge Road to the R445 dual carriageway to the south.

The Osberstown Interchange will see a new junction (9A?) created at Osberstown midway between junctions 9 and 10. This interchange has been planned for some time and is also sometimes referred to as Millennium Park. It will also serve as the motorway access point for the planned Clane-Sallins western bypass.

Update 22/07/2014: The Wexford People has released some details of the upcoming project to bypass Enniscorthy (as M11):
DETAILS of the work to be done to extend the M11 motorway from Gorey to Oylegate were last week provided to councillors in the Enniscorthy district.
It is expected that all tenders from consortia keen to carry out the work will be submitted by the end of November.
The contract is due to be awarded in June of next year, with construction to get under way in September.
The budget for the long-awaited project is €341 million and the road should be open to motorists before the end of 2018.
There is no start date for the associated N25 dual carriageway bypass of New Ross, however. The two projects are a single package.

Update 07/07/2014: Preferred routes have been announced for the N5 Turlough-Westport and N5/N26/N58 Turlough-Ballina/Foxford-Swinford projects.

The N5 Turlough-Westport section will be dual carriageway and its route is defined here (archived version, more maps). It's a large scheme and there is no identified funding source as yet. As a reminder, current roads policy in Ireland is to progress schemes until design is complete, and then put them on ice until economic conditions improve.

The N5/N26/N58 project comprises a pair of single carriageway upgrades. It follows the N26 and N58 from south of Ballina to Turlough on the N5, where it meets the end of the other scheme, and online improvements between Foxford and Swinford, with town bypasses. Information is here with Google Mapping here. It links into an improvement completed a few years ago that widened a few kilometres of the existing N26 south of Ballina. Like the other N5 scheme, there isn't any specific funding for this.

In other news, a poster, si404, over on SABRE has linked to the EU's TEN-T GIS map. Here, the fact that the N69 Limerick-Foynes is a route that needs to be upgraded is confirmed. If the box "Adopted Roads Core" is ticked, the N69 is marked as the only new route left to be built in Ireland, north and south, that is part of the Core road set. (There are a few other spots where work is needed, but they are either underway or too small to indicate on the map: the new A8 dual carriageway to Larne, the A12/M2/M3 junction in Belfast, N7 Newlands Cross junction southwest of Dublin, and the N8/N25/N40 Dunkettle junction at Cork. The A8 and N7 projects are currently under construction.)

If the Adopted Roads tickbox is checked instead, all road upgrades considered a priority are marked. Specifically, they are: N4 Longford-Sligo, N5 Longford-Westport, N17 Galway-Sligo, N11 Wicklow-Rosslare, N20 Limerick-Cork, N21 Limerick-Tralee and N69 Limerick-Foynes. Many of these will be progressed by PPPs or other means in the next decade or so.

Update 08/06/2014: All traffic count pages have been updated for 2013. Each road's page links to its counts, and the full list can be found here.

Last year, the NRA launched a new traffic data portal which has greatly expanded the number of locations where the traffic volume is measured. In the case where a route has been entirely or largely replaced by a motorway in the last few years, the old and new routes have separate pages, for example for the M6 - with counts pages for the old N6 and the new M6.

Update 01/06/2014: The NRA has put out a policy document setting out their position on the provision of Motorway Service Areas (MSAs) on the current and future road network. Page 22 (Figure 5.1) has a diagram showing both the motorway network and all proposed future sites for Type 1 (full) and Type 2 (rest only) MSAs. The two are defined on page 16. Generally, Type 2s will be places to stop and use the toilet only - they will not have fuel or a restaurant. Type 1s will provide a full array of services.

The diagram is interesting for a number of reasons. Proposed motorways or High Quality Dual Carriageways (HQDCs) are shown - the M11 at Enniscorthy (a project expected to move to construction some time next year), the M17/M18 (under construction), the Galway Bypass (proposed as a HQDC), and most interestingly of all, a new route is marked along the N69 from Limerick to the Shannon port at Foynes. If this is true, then a road of at least HQDC standard is planned along this corridor. For further discussion on this, see the news article below of 26th May.

In addition the diagram shows a large number of proposed Type 1 or 2 MSAs. Some of these are a little surprising - there will be one on the N69, one on the M3, one on the N28, and one on the M17 - all fairly quiet roads. Many of the rest probably should already have been provided as they will serve important routes like Dublin-Cork and Dublin-Limerick. However, there will be none on the M50.

Unserviced laybys are provided on many motorways in Ireland at present. Due to legal restrictions, motorists are not allowed to exit their vehicles as this would technically make them pedestrians on a motorway. However, many do, and use them as impromptu toilets due to the lack of actual provision of these services. Thankfully, the document confirms that these will be closed to traffic as service areas are completed nearby. This would be a very welcome move as some have turned into eyesores due to lack of maintenance.

Also of great interest is the traffic level diagram on Page 19 (Figure 4.3). This shows by colour coding the traffic levels on the network nationwide. The only routes with significant flows were all completed many years ago. In fact, they correspond closely with the original few routes identified in the National Road Needs Study of 1994: Dublin-Kinnegad (M4), Dublin-Dundalk (M1) and Dublin-Portlaoise (M7). Many sections seem to be in need of 6-laning as they are above 50,000 vehicles per day and are marked in pink: M1 from Lissenhall to Balbriggan, M4 Lucan-Maynooth, M7 Naas-M9 split, M50 southeast, M11 Bray. Stretches south of Bray on the N11 would be very hard to widen as it is difficult to avoid damage to environmentally sensitive areas.

Update 26/05/2014: An article published in the Irish Independent newspaper reveals that Ireland "could be forced to fork out for new motorways" due to EU legislation on upgrading port and airport access roads to ensure good quality access. This is part of general recommended upgrades to primary roads in EU member states under the TEN-T programme (Trans-European Networks). TEN routes are eligible for structural funds. The journalist contends that the Limerick to Shannon road, N69, and the N28 from Cork to Ringaskiddy would be upgraded to motorways. This is apparently because provision of high-quality roads along these corridors is now mandatory by 2030 or Ireland would be fined.

Personally I don't agree with the journalist's interpretation. It is highly unlikely that, particularly in the case of the N69, a single-carriageway road would need to be replaced by a motorway. This wouldn't be a good investment as there is little else along the route so it would only serve the port of Foynes at the end. On-line widening and improvement of the road's sightlines and alignment are all that is needed. In any case the parallel N21 is planned to be replaced with a dual carriageway in the medium term.

If an upgraded Limerick to Foynes route really was needed, it would make more sense to take a spur off this future N21 (making the route approximately like this), and indeed Fred Barry seems to allude to this in the article when he says that they would need to "work out how to link it to the Limerick to Tralee (N21) road" and "reconfigure several roads".

The N28 from Cork to the major industrial area of Ringaskiddy is a simpler situation. A new high-quality dual carriageway along this short route has been planned for some time - and is badly needed anyway, to replace the existing quite narrow road. The road is currently in planning. If TEN-T funding is made available, this can only help.

Update 16/05/2014: Undoubtedly repeating (or contradicting!) much of the information on this site, the NRA have published a huge 100-page summary of the enormous progress made in Ireland in the 2000s in creating a modern road network. Plenty of great photos throughout, including objects found on archaeological digs.

Work has started on the Motorway Services Area (MSA) near Jct 2 Kilcullen on the M9, with the publication of a road works speed limit order by Kildare County Council. Judging by past form, this facility should be done within 9-12 months.

The other MSA under construction, near Gorey on the M11 in the southeast, should be finished within a month or so. However, there will still be another 6 to go, before the originally envisaged plan to provide services across the network is completed. This document only lists 7 in total, plus one that was refused planning permission, but a total of 12 (3 complete, 2 under construction, 1 refused) were in the original plan.

Update 13/05/2014: It had been expected to begin construction nearly every year since 2006, and had been planned as far back as 2000. Now, it is becoming a reality. The large M17/M18 motorway, running from Gort to Tuam in Galway, had its contract signed on the 2nd May, and the official sod-turning was on the 9th. Here is coverage from RTE and the Department of Transport.

The two parts of the scheme are mapped in detail on the M17 and M18 pages on this site.

The 57 km route, which is a PPP (Public Private Parnership), will open in 2018 and consists of 53 km of motorway and 4 km of dual carriageway. There will be no charge for use. There is a possibility that the dual carriageway section, the Tuam bypass, will be delivered early, as this has often been the case in the past. A map can be found here.

The new road will bypass Gort, Ardrahan, Kilcolgan, Clarinbridge, Athenry and Tuam. It will also partially bypass Claregalway. When it is completed, Tuam and Claregalway-bound traffic originating in Galway should follow M6 and M17, and Limerick and Ennis-bound traffic should follow M6 and M18.

As well as a large M6/M17/M18 multiplex junction, there will be other junctions created at Ardrahan (junction 17 on the M18), N63 at Annagh Hill (probably junction 2 on the M17), and 3 roundabouts on the Tuam bypass.

Within the next 12 months, the next PPP bundle, N25 New Ross bypass and M11 Enniscorthy bypass, should also get underway.

Update 14/04/2014: After more than 2 years' construction, the R402 Enfield-Edenderry road has been completed. This 11 km single carriageway connects the midlands town of Edenderry with the M4 motorway leading to Dublin and replaces a substandard, dangerous, winding route.

Update 10/04/2014: For a couple of months now, contract signing of the huge M17/M18 motorway has been imminent. There was great hope it would happen 2 weeks ago but it was deferred at the last minute due to technicalities with the contract.

However, it now seems very likely that the document will be finalised early next week - leading to a "jobs bonanza" as apparently 2000 direct and indirect jobs will be created during construction of the 57 km scheme which runs from Gort to Athenry to Tuam, all in Galway.

In a broader sense, the route is part of the Atlantic Corridor - a series of upgrades of the various roads that make up the Cork-Donegal long distance route running along the west coast of the island.

Update 04/02/2014: I added photos of the construction of the new 16 km section of N11 dual carriageway between Wicklow and Arklow. The new road is mostly immediately parallel to the existing one so it is quite easy to see. There is only one new junction being provided through which traffic on the current N11 single carriageway road passes. This new road is scheduled to be completed in August 2015.

Update 14/01/2014: This site has been mentioned in an Irish Times article on the economic and social changes that the development of Ireland's road network have brought about, and is well worth a read.

An allusion to the Enniscorthy/New Ross PPP bundle has been made in the statement for 2014 from the Minister For Transport, Leo Varadkar. The article states that a priority for the year is:
"Construction to begin on Gort-Tuam Motorway and progress the next bundle of PPPs to tender (Wexford)"
Here, the "Wexford" bundle comprises the 27 km M11 Enniscorthy bypass and the 13.6 km N25 New Ross dual carriageway bypass.
Both projects are depicted on the network map here.

Update 08/01/2014: More detailed maps of the proposed M7 Naas-Newbridge (Jct 9-11) widening have been put up here. It is unknown when this will go ahead but it is likely to be soon, perhaps as soon as this time next year, due to the critical importance of the section and the very high levels of traffic congestion it experiences.

Junction 10 (Newhall) is being entirely reconstructed slightly to the west. The new and old junctions are visible on pages 5 and 6 respectively of this document. The old one will be stopped up and landscaped, and the new one will interface with the R445 (old N7) instead of the Newbridge Road at the M7 Business Centre as at present. At this location, the R445 is in fact a dual carriageway and is a more appropriate location for this structure.

Update 02/01/2014: A few weeks ago, the NRA moved the N4 Collooney-Castlebaldwin dual carriageway replacement into the planning phase. This 14.7 km scheme will replace a highly dangerous section of the important N4 route which connects Dublin to Sligo via a string of important intermediate towns. The official project site is here and indicates the alignment in detail.

To the west of here, consultation has begun recently on the replacement of a long (35 km) section of N5 roadway near the village of Tulsk and the N5/N61 crossing. This part of the N5 is particularly difficult to replace as the area is very rich in megalithic archaeological remains, so the route is diverting far (6 km) to the north of the current alignment in order to skirt the whole zone. A poster on the Boards website has put up maps and information about the scheme.

Finally, in the Dublin commuter belt, planning consultation began today on widening the M7 motorway between junctions 9 and 11 from 4 to 6 lanes, a distance of around 11.5 km. This county council planning map indicates the section to be upgraded, and this is a view of the route on Google Maps. This widening extends the 6-laned section east of here which was completed between junctions 4 and 9 in 2006.

Update 24/12/2013: The N3 Mulhuddart Interchange upgrade was completed back on October 7th. (It wasn't announced officially at the time, but local politician David McGuinness mentioned it on his site.) This project greatly improved this congested junction located right next to the sprawling Blanchardstown Shopping Centre. The overbridge was doubled, the ramps were moved further back from the junction to provide more circulation and stacking space, and a new loop was added taking traffic from the centre to the N3 inbound to Dublin. Google Maps has already been updated.

According to McGuinness, however, the new configuration is posing some challenges, and may even be underengineered.

The R132 Airport road works to turn a 1.3 km section into an urban dual carriageway has also been completed. This has fixed a substandard access road to the airport that was one of the first things many visitors to the country saw. The work can be seen in Google Maps.

Update 16/12/2013: The remainder of the N3 Belturbet Bypass opened on the 13th December. This completes the single carriageway 6.7 km in length. However, the bulk of the scheme had already opened back in August. There are now no longer any major bottlenecks or substandard sections on the whole N3/M3 route (map on this site, design map).

Update 20/11/2013: The Irish Times is reporting that SIAC, the venerable construction group still working on getting the N40 Sarsfield & Bandon Interchanges project finished in Cork, has entered examinership. Contrary to what was reported here on the 4th October, there were outstanding works remaining all along the scheme although the flyovers have been open for some time. Work on the site has slowed to a crawl. It is unclear when this work will be finished as it is likely to be awaiting the injection of rescue funding.

Update 15/10/2013: RTE (the national television channel for Ireland) has put up an archive news article and video on their site of the opening of Ireland's first motorway, the 7 km M7 in 1983, and it's well worth watching. It will come as a surprise to many that there was originally a plan to levy a 30p (38c) toll for cars and IR£1 for lorries, thankfully abandoned.
Website BridgesOfDublin.ie has a series of shots of the M50 Westlink (Junction 6-7) under construction back in the late 1980s - also thoroughly worth spending some time on.
The NRA have redesigned their site and a useful addition to it is a Google Maps visualisation of traffic counter data. It can be accessed from the link in the Current Traffic Counter Data segment of this page.
It's been confirmed that work on the 57 km M17/M18 Gort-Oranmore-Tuam motorway will start by the end of the year, or early next year, as funding has been approved. It should be open to traffic in 2017.
Truckers are being given a toll holiday this November on four roads to gauge the extent of toll-dodging: M1 Drogheda, M3 Dublin-Kells, M6 Ballinasloe-Galway and N18 Limerick Tunnel. There is a significant amount of traffic on the N2 through Slane, for example, largely as a result of truck drivers avoiding the M1 Boyne Bridge crossing west of Drogheda, which currently carries a toll for lorries of €6.10.
Finally, it has been confirmed that work will not begin on the 96 km, €1 billion M20 Cork-Limerick motorway for the foreseeable future, as even if the road is a PPP and the construction company carries the initial build cost, the land purchases and planning and design costs would still be too high. The road between these cities has many stretches in dire need of replacement, especially at Buttevant.

Update 07/10/2013: Two new proposals, both for the M11, have been added to the Futures page. One is a new build replacement for the Bray-Newtownmountkennedy dual carriageway, which cannot be converted to motorway. The other is an online upgrade of the Newtown-Ashford section.

Update 04/10/2013: All outstanding works on the N40 Bandon & Sarsfield Interchanges project have now been completed. The works zone is indicated in red on this map.
The N40 (Cork Southern Ring Road) is now a motorway in all but name apart from the Dunkettle (N40/N25/N8) interchange.

Update 23/09/2013: A major site redesign and update has taken place, including additional information on the Controversy and Protests page, a longer list of schemes (including minor schemes) on the Miscellaneous Info page, and screencaptures replaced with embedded Google Maps. There have also been various minor usability enhancements.

Update 16/08/2013: The Tralee Bypass is open! This major scheme was 8 km of dual carriageway and 5.5 of single. The main part was a dual carriageway bypass of Tralee to the east. It also diverted the N22, which used to be multiplexed with the N21 on its way into Tralee, onto a new single carriageway road.
Here is the area on OpenStreetMap, a newspaper article, and an NRA press release.
This Boards.ie thread has covered the building of the bypass in great deal. Particularly interesting are two recent posts, this one showing the bypass right before it opened to traffic and this right after.

Update 02/08/2013: Most (5.5 out of 6.7 km) of the Belturbet bypass is now open ahead of the rest of the scheme (expected next year). An astute road user has uploaded a YouTube video already. The road seems to have been built to a high single-carriageway standard, with good landscaping and views.
In separate news, a poster on Boards has put some images up of the M11 Wicklow-Arklow scheme.

Update 30/07/2013: It has been announced that work will begin on the Gorey MSA (Motorway Service Area) by the end of August. This project is part of the bundle, currently under construction, that includes the N7 Newlands Cross interchange and the M11 Wicklow-Arklow motorway. It should take 2 years to build once underway.

Update 24/07/2013: The mainline flyovers of the Bandon & Sarsfield Interchanges scheme in Cork opened this morning. There is still plenty of work to be done on the slip lanes and tie-in roads, so the scheme isn't finished just yet. Here is a fantastic aerial shot, showing the elevated lanes rolling out like a carpet, and another closer to ground level. Also, someone has made a video.

Update 17/07/2013: There are some very detailed pictures being uploaded to the Newlands Cross SkyscraperCity thread by some of the users there. Some recent posts that illustrate the preparatory works underway include this, this and this.

In the final few pictures, a new retaining wall can be seen under construction, further back from the road then the existing one, which is now gone.

As pointed out in an earlier update, the progress of the upgrade can be seen in a live traffic cam view here.

Update 10/07/2013: The singe-carriageway bypass of Belturbet, Co. Cavan, is significantly delayed due to issues with boggy ground. It now will not be completed until early 2014, a year late. A recent newspaper article provides some details.

Update 17/06/2013: Widening of the M1 from Drynam to Lissenhall from 4 to 6 lanes appears to have been completed around this time, according to the Boards discussion group (main thread). It wasn't possible to pinpoint the exact day as like The Downs N4 scheme no official announcement appears to have been made. It wasn't possible to observe the completion in the live traffic cam view either, as all the M1 camera views were down for maintenance for several weeks. SkyscraperCity has a great post showing the new alignment (image 9 onwards).

Update 10/06/2013: The improvements to the N4 at The Downs have been completed around now according to Boards, though there does not seem to have been an announcement. The main part of the development was the creation of the new junction 14.

Update 06/06/2013: Actual work on the ground for the Newlands Cross (N7) and M11 schemes began today. There is a live traffic cam view here, labelled "Naas Road / Newlands Cross", which can be used to watch progress take place.

Update 24/05/2013: The N2/N3 link road, connecting Blanchardstown with the Cherryhound interchange on the N2/M2, is now open according to this press release by the Department of Transport. It is Y-shaped road and involves a few smaller connecting routes to neighbouring routes. Here is a map showing the various parts marked by Google Maps waypoints. The part near Tyrellstown (at the southwest corner) was widened from 2 to 4 lanes and was not a new build road.

Update 16/05/2013: The N8/N25/N40 Dunkettle Interchange, located here, received planning approval today from An Bord Pleanala, the national planning board. The scheme will extensively redesign the junction to make it freeflow in all directions and provide some new local roads. It will cost €100 million, but is as yet unfunded. Since only PPP projects are making any progress in Ireland during this period of austerity, and this scheme would be directly funded by the Exchequer, it's not clear how this funding will ever be forthcoming. It might have to wait until the lifting of budgetary constraints in the coming years.
The scheme should be treated as a priority however. It needs to be seen as a serious bottleneck for Cork in the way N7 Newlands Cross, now being reconstructed, is for Dublin.
Detailed plans are available on the scheme website, with a good overview on page 3 of this document.

Update 30/04/2013: After years and years of delays, the N7 Newlands Cross Interchange and M11 Wicklow-Arklow motorway projects are to start within days, since today the contract was signed with BAM construction. Newlands Cross will take 21 months to build, putting its opening date at February 2015, while the M11 won't be ready until September of that year due to its 28 month build time.

Update 16/04/2013: Bad news for the N6 Galway bypass. The European Court of Justice has ruled that the karst/limestone area part of it was due to run through, as a protected zone, cannot be built on due to the damage this would cause. There are now few options available for progressing this much-needed piece of hardware for this traffic choked town, the 4th biggest city in the state. Either a new route must be found or the ruling must be overruled using a facility known as IROPI (Imperative Reasons of Overriding Public Interest). The former is unlikely as the whole Connemara region, wherein Galway lies, is covered in limestone pavement making it impossible to avoid, and the second can be tricky to argue successfully in court, the reason being that judges are loath to allow it too often or every planning decision designed to protect a habitat would be overturned. This space will need to be watched.

Separately, the very slow progress being made on the M1 widening between Junctions 3 and 4 now has an end in sight. The project is due to wrap up at the end of May according to a poster on Boards.ie.

Update 26/03/2013: The N25 New Ross and M11 Enniscorthy bypasses were a combined PPP (Public Private Partnership) but they have now been decoupled, as this article reveals. A start date of 2015 (with completion in 2017) is foreseen for the N25 New Ross bypass, which will be 16 km long (longer than the original 14), a 2+2 dual carriageway, and feature a high-level bridge over the River Barrow. Here is a map.
All this means that the M11 Enniscorthy bypass now has no start date and in fact may no longer be a government priority. However it may also be joined to another scheme, possibly the N11 Oilgate-Rosslare.

Update 14/03/2013: It seems I was too hasty in posting the July start date for the N7 Newlands Cross and M11 Wicklow-Arklow projects. On discussion website Boards.ie, it has instead been confirmed (albeit still unofficially) that with contract signing within the next couple of weeks, work will kick off in April or early May. We could yet see an early summer start to these two important schemes.
I was also hasty by calling a May completion date for the N3 Belturbet bypass. Astonishingly this is quite the opposite of still-on-track; it has been delayed due to poor ground conditions until at least the end of the year and perhaps well into the next!
Finally, following furious debate on Boards.ie about the N2 as it runs through the town of Slane, I rethought my proposal for an N51 replacement in the Futures section. This has now been rerouted further south to avoid the Boyne Valley, and the part between the M3 and N52 removed as traffic can simply use the M3.

Update 09/03/2013: It has been quiet on the roadbuilding front for some time now. The latest news is that the Newlands Cross interchange and M11 Wicklow-Arklow scheme have once again been kicked down the field. They will have their contracts signed this month (March) and will kick off in July. Particularly in the case of the M11 scheme, these delays are infuriating. That scheme has been planned for decades at this stage, and was meant to start first in Jan 2012, then May, then Dec, then April 2013, and now July. These two schemes will very much be in the bag only when bulldozers start to roll.
The M17/M18 Gort to Tuam motorway is planned to commence by year's end. If so, since it is being paid for with a €550M loan, it would be a major sign to the markets that Ireland can borrow large amounts of money again following the ending of restrictions imposed on it by the IMF. Its IMF bailout will come to an end in December.
Some schemes have had their completion dates pushed out somewhat. The M1 widening from 4 to 6 lanes between Junctions 3 and 4 will not finish up until the second quarter (end June) of this year, a surprisingly long time (18 months) - but there is a significant upgrade of Jct 4 bundled into this too.
The N40 Sarsfield/Bandon Road interchanges scheme in Cork was due to wrap up in July but will now be "end Q3" (September). This most important project will result in a southern ring road for Cork that is entirely grade-separated dual carriageway except for the Dunkettle roundabout, itself moving towards the land acquisition phase in February.
The N22/N21 Tralee Bypass has been pushed out from April to a July completion.
The N4 Downs Interchange project was meant to finish back in December 2012 but there was still plenty of activity when I drove through the area last weekend. No idea when work will be done here.
Odd-man-out N3 Belturbet single-carriageway bypass is apparently still on track to open in May.
As always, click through to the Current Road Programme page for more details.

Update 08/12/2012: According to this article (see bottom), the N52 Carrick Bridge to Clonfad road opened on the 7th December. It is 5.6 km of single carriageway and completes the replacement of the whole road between Mullingar and Tullamore. A regional aim for the midlands was to complete a new road network between the three large towns of Mullingar, Tullamore and Athlone. With this scheme, this is now complete. The upgraded section is between these two points.

Update 07/12/2012: There is now doubt that the 57 km M17/M18 Gort-Tuam motorway will start in 2013, as previously indicated. The minister for transport has stated that the funding of the scheme is contingent on the sale of state assets, and although the 4G mobile spectrum was recently sold off, none of the resulting money was earmarked for roads. It is now not even possible to guess the start date of the scheme, as there will be many other competing interests.

Update 29/11/2012: The widening of the M1 from 4 to 6 lanes between junctions 2 and 3 is progressing slowly. The completion date has been pushed out from 31st Dec 2012 to the end of March 2013.

Update 24/11/2012: A question in the Oireachtas (Irish parliament) put to Fred Barry, CEO of the NRA, reveals that the tender for the N7 Newlands Cross and M11 Wicklow-Arklow schemes will be signed in the first quarter of 2013.

Update 15/11/2012: The construction company that will build the M11 Wicklow-Arklow scheme, CIS, has listed 2nd April 2013 on their page for the project. Since the N7 Newlands Cross interchange is bundled with this, it is possible that its start date is similar. This is assuming that the date is reliable at all; it has slipped before - see update for 21st October.

Update 14/11/2012: Survey results have been added to the Futures page.

Update 02/11/2012: Work has kicked off on the 13.6 km single-carriageway Ballaghaderreen bypass on the N5 in Mayo (route). This will effectively extend the Charlestown Bypass, opened in November 2007, eastwards. Although the N5 recently had another section completed, the short but useful Longford Bypass, it generally remains a poor quality national route with work needed between Westport and Castlebar in particular, and an examination needed of the options for reconnecting it to the N4 - currently a long, shoddy part runs from Frenchpark to Longford but this could easily be all bypassed by diverting the route northeast to join with the N4 near Carrick-on-Shannon.
It is expected that construction on Ballaghaderreen's bypass will take two years.

Update 21/10/2012: Some good news and bad news. The good news is a pretty major upgrade of Junction 3 on the N3 (Mulhuddart/Blanchardstown Shopping Centre) got underway at some point in early September. This much-needed scheme will double-lane the ramps and overbridge, as well as creating a loop for getting from the Blanchardstown Centre onto the N3 inbound. An information page from the council is here, with a link to maps at the bottom.
The bad news is that the N7 Newlands Cross junction and M11 Wicklow-Arklow combined projects, which were supposed to start on the 10th October, have not started with no explanation given. Seemingly there has been a funding shortfall and construction may not begin until the new year.

Update 01/09/2012: The very minor N87 Ballyconnell Inner Relief Road was completed on 31th August, after 14 months construction. It is a 1.3 km single-carriageway taking the N87 around to the R205, to the northeast of the town. It is visible on this map.

Update 03/08/2012: The single-carriageway N5 Longford Bypass has opened to traffic. It is a bright spot in these days' economic gloom. It commenced on 12th May 2011 and is 2.6 km long. It provides a high-quality facility to enable N4 and N5 traffic to avoid the town centre. The only remaining national road passing through the town now is the N63, but that can be also be accessed from the new road using an industrial access road.

Update 17/07/2012: Wonderful news! A stimulus package has been announced by the government, to be funded by the EIB (European Investment Bank), the National Pension Reserve Fund and Irish banks. Schemes confirmed are the M17/M18 Gort-Tuam motorway, the M11 Enniscorthy bypass bundled with the N25 New Ross bypass, and, if it hopefully clears its legal hurdles in its September European Court of Justice ruling, the N6 Galway Outer Bypass. Hopefully there will also be a number of minor town bypasses and other smaller schemes going ahead in the near future with the regular budget.

Update 25/06/2012: Disastrously, the start date for the Newlands Cross N7 grade separation project has now also been deferred until Q4 of this year. I am hoping it will be towards the start of this period and therefore have marked it above as the 1st September.

Update 15/06/2012: The start date for the N5 Ballaghaderreen single carriageway scheme is confirmed by email correspondence to be in October or November this year.

Update 13/06/2012: Although the start date for the M11 Wicklow-Arklow road has been confirmed, it seems it had been deferred again - from end July to the 10th October, according to this information on the construction company's website. This much-needed road can't come quickly enough. The current road is a dangerous, twisty single carriageway connecting two motorways.

Update 15/04/2012: The traffic counts for trunk roads and motorways have been updated for 2011. Few of them have seen noteworthy increases as the economic crisis continues, and indeed traffic levels have fallen slightly for the third or fourth time on some routes.

Update 01/04/2012: A large regional road project started back in September 2011 with little fanfare, though a local politician mentioned it on his website. The R121 N2-N3 Link is an urban dual carriageway that will connect the N2 at the Cherryhound interchange (Jct 2) with both the R121 at Tyrellstown and Corduff Road. It will be a total of 3.6 km of new dual carriageway (2.7 km of R121, 0.9 km for the other fork) and 600 m of widening at Tyrellstown south to Cruiserath Road. The only significant discussion on the project is here.

The wider context here is that it is planned to eventually provide a full outer ring road of Dublin running as follows: Swords-Airport-Blanchardstown-Lucan-Tallaght. How long this whole project will take is anyone's guess.

Update 24/03/2012: On the 28th February 2012, a big overhaul of national routes in Ireland was announced. The SI (Statutory Instrument, legal document giving force to legislation in the Republic of Ireland) covering this is here. The four most noteworthy changes this brings about are:

- The creation of a separate number for the Cork Southern Ring Road. This will henceforth be known as N40, and work to replace signage to reflect this will be carried out between April and August of this year. A new page, N40, has been created especially for this. The old M40 page, which was the number I had always assumed the future Leinster Outer Orbital would take, has been renamed M45 and moved to a new page. The N25 page has been updated to remove references to the Cork Southern Ring Road since the N25 now starts at Dunkettle, the junction between the M8, N8, N25 and N40.

- The detrunking of the N32, a road that runs from the M1/M50 junction southeast of Dublin Airport eastwards. This is now listed as R139 on OpenStreetMap.

- The detrunking of the N82, a road linking the N7 to the N81 in southwest Dublin. It appears to mainly have been created (in the 1990s) to provide access to a business park, Citywest. On OpenStreetMap, it is now listed as partly R838, and partly Citywest Road. The impetus for this was likely because since 2008, the N7 and N81 have been linked by the R136 Outer Ring Road, a kilometre to the east.

- The detrunking of all national roads entering Dublin City, with the exception of the N11, which has been truncated to Mount Merrion Avenue. Beyond, the road runs as R138. This rather draconian move follows the example of the N7/R110, which was truncated at the M50 many years ago. It used to run all the way into town. The truncation of all national routes now presumably is an attempt to discourage through traffic from using the city at all, though it is likely to simply make navigation far harder.

Another site update will follow shortly to remove references to national routes existing inside Dublin. Oddly, the opportunity was not taken to detrunk the useless N87 from Belburbet to the Northern Ireland border, and there may be other candidates.

Update 26/02/2012: A new section has been added! It's called Timeline maps, showing the development of road building throughout Ireland over the years. There are also large-size, and Dublin-area, versions. For each, use the Animate button to play the sequence.

Update 05/02/2012: The Futures section has been expanded. I've added more proposals for motorway upgrades, proposals for strategic motorway widening, and a new section on proposed junction upgrades. These last only cover Dublin for the moment, as I am less familiar with the traffic needs of the country's regional cities.

Update 21/01/2012: The N4 Downs Grade Separation scheme is underway. This will see 5 km of dual carriageway widened slightly from standard to high-quality dual and the construction of a grade-separated interchange, which will presumably be numbered 14 since it lies halfway between 13 and 15, though this has not been officially confirmed. The median will also be closed to turning vehicles and many side entrances will be closed. (Despite this, it will still not be possible to declare the section a motorway, as some frontage access will remain.)

Works should be complete by December 2012. A map can be found at the bottom of the M4 page.

Update 12/01/2012: M1 Jct 3-4 Drinan-Lissenhall Widening will get underway on the 25th January. This project will continue last year's M1 widening near Dublin Airport, extending the 6-laned section a further 4 kilometres. It will be completed by the end of November.

It was recently announced that the N7/M11 Newlands Cross/Arklow-Rathnew combined PPP scheme has been funded using a combination of European Investment Bank (EIB) and Bank of Ireland (BoI) money. This was possible because the Irish Government now owns a majority stake in Bank of Ireland, due to bailouts resulting from the economic crisis currently gripping the country. Both will start at the same time in around 6 months. However, the other proposed PPP, the M17/M18 project, remains unfunded and no start date is yet known.

Here is the finalised list of projects to take place in 2012.

Under Construction:
M1 Jct 3-4 Drinan-Lissenhall Widening to 6 lanes (4 km)

To Start ASAP:
N4 The Downs Grade Separation (5.4 km)
N52 Carrick Bridge to Clonfad (6 km)

To Start June 1st:
M11 Wicklow-Arklow (16.5 km)
N7 Newlands Cross Interchange (Junction 1B?) (1.8 km)

To Be Progressed to Construction by Year End:
N5 Ballaghaderreen BP (13.5 km)

Budget Assigned for 2012 but PPP Uncertainty:
M17/18 Gort to Tuam (56 km)

Update 09/08/2011: Disaster! The Minister for Transport, Leo Varadkar, has suspended 45 active road schemes in a move to slash spending as part of austerity measures. Work will continue on each project until a preferred route is identified, at which point no further work is to occur until further notice. This puts most of the road projects for 2012 and onwards on ice, only leaving a very short list:

M1 Jct 3-4 Drinan-Lissenhall (Widening from 4 to 6 lanes)
N5/N59 South Westport Relief Road - This appears to be an oversight as it has not appeared in any other short-range plans.
N7 Jct 1B Newlands Cross Interchange & M11 Arklow to Rathnew
M17/M18 Gort-Athenry-Tuam & N17 Tuam BP
M20 Limerick-Cork (Northern Section)
M20 Limerick-Cork (Southern Section)

Nearly all of the above plans are PPPs, meaning that even though they are still active, they will be contingent on borrowing being possible - which is unlikely with Ireland's credit rating being what it is.

Update 04/08/2011: The Tralee Bypass is underway. It does not have its own page, but appears on the map. It involves a dual carriageway bypass east of Tralee and a single carriageway link to the N22 at Bealagrellagh.

Update 30/07/2011: The Cork Southern Ring project is underway. According to this article, there seems to be discussion ongoing over whether the route should be declared a motorway when works are complete. However, it is doubtful that this could occur until the N25/N8 Dunkettle Interchange project is upgraded, which is scheduled to begin construction in 2014 according to the dedicated site.

Update 06/07/2011: The N25 Cork Southern Ring Interchange project, a scheme to grade separate two of the roundabouts on the Cork southern ring road, kicks off on the 30th. When this is complete around July 2013, the whole southern ring road, from Ballincollig in the west to Dunkettle in the east, will be built to a very high standard. In the next few weeks, the N22/N69/N70 Tralee Bypass dual carriageway bypass scheme will also commence construction. Both of these schemes are listed on the full project tracker list.

Update 02/07/2011: Responses received so far to the surveys in the Futures section have been added.

Update 02/04/2011: Lots of pictures of the M9 are up, following a road trip.

Update 13/03/2011: A page has been added for the N25, though it has no motorway sections (yet). It also has a traffic count page.

Update 05/03/2011: Traffic counts have been added for all motorways where available. They are listed on separate break-out pages.

Update 22/12/2010: With the opening the M7 Castletown-Nenagh motorway, the nation's interurban motorway network is now complete. There is now a big ramp-down with only small scale activity anticipated in the coming years.

Update 06/10/2010: All three of the state's first group of Motorway Service Areas are now open. The first two, on the M1, opened on the 8th and 29th of September at Lusk and Castlebellingham respectively. The third, on the M4 toll motorway at Enfield, opened to traffic on the 6th October.

Update 28/09/2010: The final section of the M7 Limerick-Nenagh motorway, Limerick to Birdhill (the part nearest Limerick), has been completed after it experienced significant problems during construction. A part that passed over a bog subsided, requiring its redesign and reconstruction.

Update 09/09/2010: The state's first Motorway Service Area (MSA) on the M1 has been added. It opened at Lusk on the 8th September; the second and third will open in a few weeks.

Update 03/09/2010: With the completion of the M50 upgrade, the page on the road has been expanded with additional information.

Update 12/07/2010: Video and photos uploaded of M3.

Update 21/06/2010: Limerick Bypass Phase 2 renamed N18 from N7. Video and photos uploaded of M4.

Update 15/06/2010: Data for all motorways completed up to 1997 has been added. All motorway data is now listed.

Update 01/02/2010: Data and graph for the motorways completed in 2009 are updated.