Members of the public will be able to drive the route of the long awaited 8km section of the Macroom bypass in Co Cork on Friday afternoon with locals saying that it will have a transformative effect on traffic levels in a town blighted by severe tailbacks for years.
The bypass was officially opened this morning by Taoiseach Micheál Martin and County Mayor Cllr Danny Collins. Mr Martin said the bypass will greatly improve safety and accessibility for local communities, as well as for those travelling between Cork and Kerry.
“It will encourage economic growth, supporting further investment and employment to the region. I look forward to seeing Macroom and the wider region go from strength to strength in the years ahead and wish all who travel on the road a safe journey,” he said.
The official opening follows years of local campaigning for a bypass to ease traffic congestion in Macroom by providing an alternative route for commuters and delivery drivers. It is hoped the bypass will put an end to traffic jams in Macroom which at peak times could result in lines of car stretching for several miles either side of the town.
The 8km section of the bypass is part of a €280 million project that include a dual carriageway starting at the Cork and Kerry border and extending for 22km to the east of Macroom. It is due to be completed in 2024.
The new bypass, which is opening in advance of schedule, includes a roundabout at the tie-in on the eastern side of Macroom, a grade-separated junction at Gurteenroe on the western end of Macroom and a temporary tie-in at Carrigaphooca, with the temporary roundabout allowing traffic to merge on to the existing N22.
Cllr Danny Collins said it was a “fantastic day for the people of Macroom where 13,000 cars and HGVs would travel through daily”.
“Thanks to the bypass, the volume of traffic will decrease by 40 per cent leading to improved quality of life for residents, businesses and visitors to Macroom. Now, the urban renewal of Macroom will begin, where motorists travelling between Cork and Kerry will visit the town and properly experience all that Macroom has to offer without worrying about being stuck in traffic,” he said.
Work on the €280 million bypass started in January 2020 with up to 260 construction staff employed on site at the peak of the project. In December 2020, seven precast concrete bridge beams, the longest ever in Ireland and the UK at 49.9 metres in length, made their way to Macroom with the assistance of a garda escort over four nights. There was only 200mm in height to spare in the Jack Lynch Tunnel on the journey.
The new section of road consists of two lanes in each direction separated by a steel median barrier. A total of 48 principal structures were built including three river bridges, three overbridges and four under bridges, walls, culverts and environmental barriers for noise reduction and 132,000 square metres of footpath.
Minister of Transport Eamon Ryan said the new bypass would breathe life into Macroom, ensuring the town can begin to flourish as a place people where want to live and visit without the stress of congestion.
“It will improve safety for all road users and opens up possibilities for reimagining how Macroom can now develop in line with the Government’s Town Centre First policy which is all about ‘place making’ and ensuring that towns are built around people first, not cars,” he said.