Sunday 6 September 2009

NRA shelves proposed plans for motorway service stations

The National Roads Authority (NRA) has postponed plans to build nine of the 12 service stations that had been planned for Ireland’s motorways, because of budget cuts.

The 12 stations were due to be built on the five inter-urban motorways by 2011.However, a source said that only the three service stations for which the contracts had already been awarded would move into construction. A consortium made up of construction firm Pierse, Petrogas and Tedcastles Oil will build and operate two service areas on the M1 between Dublin and Belfast, and one on the M4 between Dublin and Galway. These will open in 18 to 22 months.

However, the NRA was recently told by the Department of Finance not to go ahead with the purchase of nine other sites. It will be ‘‘2011 and possibly later’’ before the funding is available for these sites, but NRA spokesman Sean O’Neill said that the roads authority ‘‘remains completely committed’’ to providing the remaining service areas.

‘‘We plan on tendering for these when the funding is in place again," O’Neill said.

‘‘The government has raised over 2 billion from private developers for the major motorways, and the tolling system funds this. Compared to continental Europe, Irish motorists get much better value for their money per kilometre." Conor Faughnan of AA Ireland said that ‘‘marvellous new motorways’’ were being devalued by ‘‘glaring deficiencies’’ like the failure to build service areas. ‘‘It is unacceptable that it may be 2012 before these are looked at again," said Faughnan.

‘‘They are necessities, not optional extras. Next year there will be motorway from Dundalk to Dunkettle [in Cork] without a petrol station." Separately, a list of motorway toll locations and costs, obtained by The Sunday Business Post, shows that cars using the 60 kilometre M3 from Clonee to Kells will have to pay atoll of €1.40 at atoll station north of Clonee and another toll of €1.40 at a second tolling booth south of Kells.

Motorists travelling between Dublin and Galway will be charged almost €10 for a return journey, while the Dublin/ Cork motorway will be tolled again at Cullahill in Co Laois. Private cars currently pay €1.90 at the Fermoy bypass.

Sunday Business Post

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