300km of roads to be assigned as motorways
MOTORWAY STATUS is to be given to 19 new sections of road across 10 national routes from next month, including the first stretch of the controversial M3 that passes near the Hill of Tara.
The new motorways, which are primarily on the routes from Dublin to other major cities, will have their speed limit increased to 120km/h with a potential reduction in journey times by as much as an hour to cities such as Galway, Cork, Sligo and Limerick.
However, none of the upgraded roads will have service areas or toilets along their length, the National Roads Authority has said.
Almost 300km of national roads will become motorways under the redesignation.
On some roads only a short distance of less than 10km is achieving motorway status. In other areas more than 60km will become motorway.
Four of the 10 national roads will gain the status of full motorways as the sections to be redesignated next month are the only stretches of those roads which are not currently of motorway grade.
These are the N8 from Dublin to Cork, the N9 from Dublin to Waterford, the N7 from the Naas bypass to Limerick and the N18 from Oranmore to Limerick.
The N6 from Dublin to Galway will be almost a full motorway, apart from the 8km stretch of the Athlone bypass which is still under consideration for motorway designation.
Five other national roads will have motorway sections, but remain national roads for a substantial portion of their length.
From next month, the N2 Dublin to Derry road will have a 13km stretch from Kilshane to Ashbourne designated as motorway and the N4 Dublin to Sligo will have the 6.8km from Kinnegad to McNead’s Bridge of motorway.
Three sections of the N11 Dublin to Wexford road will also acquire motorway status – 8km from Ashford to Rathnew, the 7km Arklow bypass and 12km from Arklow to Gorey; while the N20 Cork to Limerick road will have a 5km stretch of motorway from Limerick to Attyflin.
The smallest sections of new motorway will be the first stretches of the M3 from Dublin to Cavan to be opened.
Currently under construction these road sections will be 2.1km from Littlepace to Loughsallagh and 2.3km from Loughsallagh to Pace.
While the routing of the M3 near the Hill of Tara in Co Meath is the source of ongoing protests by heritage and environmental campaigners, these particular sections are more than 20km away from the controversial Skreen Valley.
While the motorway designations come into force on August 28th, some of the sections are still under construction and will be opened from next year. They will not have motorway speed limits of 120km/h until this construction is completed.