Tralee bypass officially opened during Rose festival
30km road cost €97m to build
Opening the Tralee bypass, Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Jimmy Deenihan (above) praised the role played by Kerry county manager Tom Curran. Photograph : Matt Kavanagh
The Tralee bypass, one of the few major national road projects to be undertaken since the economic downturn, opened today to coincide with the annual Rose of Tralee festival. It is the biggest individual road project undertaken in Co Kerry in recent years.
Rose of Tralee contestants in summer frocks, travelling in vintage cars, were the first to travel on the kingdom’s newest road, which commands a view of the Slieve Mish mountains.
Costing €97.3 million, the 30km of the N22/N69 road required 225 acres of land belonging to 78 landowners.
It connects four of the five national routes – the N21, N22, N69, and N70 – that terminate in Tralee and will take a quarter of the town’s car traffic as well as cutting journey times.
A bypasshas been sought for decades. It encountered resistance on environmental grounds in the late 1980s and early 1990s when an attempt to bring it through Ballyseedy Wood was stalled at European level by Kerry environmentalists. The preserved oak wood is now one of Tralee’s major amenities.
It stalled again in 2009 but was kick-started in early 2011 before the general election and was allowed to go ahead under the current Government.
Opening the road, Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Jimmy Deenihan praised the role played by Kerry county manager Tom Curran.
In 2007 there was €1.75 billion available nationally for road-building but by 2011 this had dropped to €320 million. Tralee got €97 million of this and its bypass was one of the few projects completed, Mr Deenihan said.
“I would like to single out one person, Tom Curran. Unless the project was ready when the country faced financial difficulties, it would not have happened,” Mr Deenihan said.
The bypass will relieve chronic traffic congestion in and out of Tralee. About 4,000 of the 16,000 cars travelling in and out of the town each day will now be able to avoid it.
Mayor of Kerry Séamus Cosaí Fitzgerald said the new road network was significant not just for Tralee but for the county as a whole, “especially when we are travelling to Croke Park”, he said, to cheers from the large crowd.