Despite ongoing controversy and delays to the planned M3 motorway, three of the other main motorways under construction nationwide are running between eight and ten months ahead of their scheduled completion dates.
Contractors working on the N6 Dublin to Galway, the N7 Dublin to Limerick and N8 Cork to Dublin motorways are making significant progress. It is believed that these new motorways could be complete within two years - ahead of their target dates in 2010.
Last month, the sod was turned on the 56-kilometre Galway to Ballinasloe stretch of the N6, and the opening of the Tyrrellspass to Kilbeggan stretch on May 16 completed the first major phase of that project. Contractors on the N7 and N8 - some of which are consortiums with foreign companies - are also moving apace without any hitches to date.
In addition, other major motorway projects - such as the Dublin to Waterford and Dublin to Sligo motorways - are well on target to be completed within the next three years, according to a new report by the Construction Industry Federation (CIF).
The federation consulted contractors working on all 13 major road projects, which are part of the €34 billion Transport 21 programme.
This includes the 560 kilometre ‘Atlantic Corridor’ that stretches from Letterkenny to Waterford - with a tunnel under the Shannon in Limerick - and the Dublin to Rosslare motorway.
A CIF spokesman said the completion of these major roadways should bring many benefits. ‘‘At the start of the last National Development Plan (NDP) in 2000, there were some delays in the roll-out of the inter-urban motorway programmes, but these delays are a thing of the past, as evidenced by the delivery on budget and ahead of time of the last 20major road schemes,” he said.
‘‘The CIF study shows that the country can look forward to having all of our main cities connected by motorway within the next three years.
‘‘As well as bringing the benefits of certainty of travel time and enhanced road safety, the completion of the programme will greatly enhance the capacity for the regions to increase economic activity, allowing for greater investment and the potential for job creation.”
Many towns and villages around the country have benefited hugely from by passes and new sections of motorway.
Heavy congestion has been relieved, and locals can use their town centres for business and leisure with greater ease, according to the CIF.