THE NATIONAL Roads Authority is to erect signs on motorways where planned service stations have been put on hold.
The signs will direct traffic off the motorway network to nearby villages and towns for fuel, food and toilets.
An Bord Pleanála had approved the development of seven service areas on Irish motorways, but four will not be built due to a lack of funding.
A spokesman for the NRA said that there was no plan to build services areas on the M6 (Dublin to Galway), M7 (Dublin to Limerick), M8 (Dublin to Cork) and M9 (Kilcullen to Waterford) because “the money wasn’t made available”.
He said the authority was, however, implementing a national signage programme so that when members of the public were driving on a new motorway, they would know exactly where to go for petrol, food etc.
The 130 signs, due to be in place by the end of next month, are being implemented at a cost of some €200,000, according to the authority.
AA Ireland’s director of policy Conor Faughnan said the absence of service stations on four Irish motorways was “not just an inconvenience, but a safety hazard”.
Mr Faughnan said a key cause of collisions on motorways was driver fatigue.
“This can lead not just to people falling asleep but also a loss of concentration among drivers,” he said, adding that “a key countermeasure is the provision of proper service areas”.
Service stations are to open on two of the State’s busiest motorways over the next few weeks at a cost of €79 million to the taxpayer.
The lack of service stations so far has meant that drivers can drive from south of Gorey, Co Wexford, to the Border without finding a place to stop for fuel, food or toilets.
The green light has been given to the Superstop consortium – comprising Tedcastle Oil, which operates the Top brand, Petrogas, which runs the Applegreen chain of petrol stations, and Pierse Contracting – as the preferred bidder for the service stations, two of which will be on the M1 (Dublin to Belfast).
The first service area, to be located at Lusk between junctions 4 and 5, is set to open tomorrow, while the second will be located at Castlebellingham, north of junction 15.
A third is due to open on the M4 (Dublin to Sligo) on October 6th, west of junction 9 at Enfield.