The National Roads Authority (NRA) has bought sites for the country’s first motorway service stations, though it will be next year before they are in operation.
The authority is seeking tenders for two service areas on the M1 between Dublin and Belfast - one northbound, between Dundalk and Castlebellingham, and one southbound, between Balbriggan and Lusk. It has also sought tenders for a service area on theM4 between Enfield and Kinnegad. Tenders must be submitted by February 20.
The NRA originally said that there was no need for service stations on motorways, but later changed its view. It has now also identified a need for stations on theM3 motorway, which is under construction between Clonee and Kells in Co Meath, and on the outskirts of Limerick city.
The NRA has also identified nine other locations for motorway services areas. These are on the N6 at Rathmorrisey in Galway, on theM6 east of Athlone, on the M7 at Mountrath and N7 east of Nenagh, on the N8 at Cashel and Kilworth, on the N9 at Kilcullen and north of Kilkenny, and on the N11 north of Gorey.
Detailed site assessment and final site selection have been undertaken for each of the locations. The facilities to be built include 24-hour services, public toilets and showers, food provision from 6am to 10pm, parking facilities for cars and heavy goods vehicles, and indoor and outdoor children’s play areas.
The planning approval process for service areas involves the submission of a service area scheme to An Bord Pleanála. Five schemes have been submitted to the board: for the M1 north and southbound, M4 at Enfield, N6 at Rathmorrissey andN11 at Gorey.
Oral hearings were held by An Bord Pleanála for the M1 and M4 schemes last July. Permission for a service area at Enfield was granted late last year, and decisions in respect of the other two ‘tranche one’ schemes have yet to be made, according to an NRA spokesman.
‘‘It is anticipated that the remaining nine schemes will be submitted before the end of March, with oral hearings before the summer this year,” he said. ‘‘The PPP [public private partnership] tender process for the first tranche of service areas, covering the twoM1 sites and the M4 site, will be complete by mid-2009.
‘‘Assuming approval by An Bord Pleanála, construction will be completed and these service areas open in 2010.I t will be 2011 for the rest.”
Sunday Business Post