An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny has turned the sod on the €550 million, M17/M18 motorway project which will boost the local economy, remove several bottlenecks and create 450 jobs during construction.
He was joined by Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport Leo Varadkar.
“This sod-turning event is another step in the Government’s plan to make the recovery local. It’s the largest Public Private Partnership in the current Stimulus Programme and is real evidence that Ireland’s PPP market is again open for business. The Gort to Tuam motorway will reduce journey times and significantly improve access in the region. Some 450 new jobs are being created now that the project is underway. The finished motorway will remove several major bottlenecks, boost competitiveness, promote regional development, and generate yet more jobs. It also marks a major step in developing the Atlantic Corridor road network along the west coast,” An Taoiseach said.
This is the second transport PPP signed by this Government and follows the M11/Newlands Cross project. It shows that Ireland’s PPP programme is fully operational again and represents a crucial vote of confidence in the Irish economy.
The new four lane motorway will replace the existing N17/N18 roads, and reduce end-to-end journey times by around 20 minutes. The 57km scheme will provide four lanes from Gort in the south to Tuam in the north, and a major junction with the M6 Galway-Dublin route to the east of Galway City. The road will bypass Tuam, Ardrahan, Claregalway, Kilcolgan, Clarinbridge and Gort and the first traffic along the route is expected in 2018.
Minister Varadkar said: “The construction of this new stretch of motorway will be of real benefit in terms of road safety and will significantly reduce through traffic in towns like Tuam, Clarinbridge and Claregalway. It will facilitate further growth and economic development, cutting journey times between Limerick and Galway and will widen the catchment areas of Knock and Shannon airports. This is the only major road project commencing in 2014 and represents further evidence of the Government’s commitment to improving road infrastructure outside of the Greater Dublin Area. The Ballaghaderreen by-pass will be completed later in the year. I’m also pleased that the NRA has made significant progress on the procurement of two further PPP projects: the N25 New Ross Bypass and the M11 Gorey Enniscorthy scheme.”
The National Roads Authority is the contracting authority and the scheme is a non-tolled PPP. The contract consortium is Direct Route, comprising Roadbridge, John Sisk, Lagan, three Irish civil engineering firms and Strabag of Austria.
This is just one of a number of significant Government transport investments outside of Dublin. The Belturbet bypass has already opened and the Ballaghaderreen bypass will be opened later this year. When completed, the M17/M18 will reduce journey times between Limerick and Galway, allowing the two cities to work more closely together.
Cormac O’Rourke Chairman National Roads Authority stated: “Upon completion in 2018, the M17/M18 motorway it will not only offer significant benefits for the west of Ireland, it will improve access to and from the Atlantic corridor for the entire country.”
Fred Barry CEO, National Roads Authority stated: “Today’s sod turning confirms the construction start of the long anticipated M17/M18 motorway scheme.”