A new stretch of motorway linking Fermoy and Mitchelstown in Co Cork has opened this afternoon.
The motorway which cost €174 million involved construction of 16 km of dual carriageway, with three grade separated junctions, three riverbridges and seven road bridges.
Construction on the road, which runs between Carrigane north of Mitchelstown and Moorepark north of Fermoy, began in December 2007.
The road, which is funded under the National Development Plan 2007 – 2013, is opening nine months ahead of schedule.
Minister for Transport Noel Dempsey officially opened the road to traffic at a ceremony today. He said the completion of the project represented the achievement of a number of important targets.
"This road has opened nine months ahead of target, it provides improved access to the region, improved road safety and it is a further significant step towards the development of the entirety of the Cork-Dublin motorway identified in the NDP 2007-2013 and Transport 21," he said.
"The benefits of this scheme to the whole region will be very significant. Expected travel times for motorists will be reduced by up to 10 minutes saving time and hassle. The improved accessibility of the region will stimulate further development and economic activity and it will also improve access to recreational and cultural facilities."
It is expected that 16,000 vehicles will use the road every day and that it will cut at least 10 minutes off average journey times from Cork to Dublin.
Just 14km of the M8 remains unopened to traffic and the final link is on schedule for completion next year.