Final section of M9 motorway opens today


THE FINAL section of the M9 motorway, a 40km link between Carlow and Knocktopher in Co Kilkenny, is to open this morning.

The section completes motorway-standard road between Kilcullen, Co Kildare, and Waterford city at a total cost of €1.519 billion. The figure includes the cost of the Suir Bridge and Waterford city bypass, which is officially part of the N25.

A motorway between Kilcullen and Dublin has been open for a number of years.

Journey times between the Red Cow interchange in Dublin and the Suir Bridge are now expected to be in the region of 90 minutes – a reduction of at least 30 minutes.

The new road also includes a five kilometre single-carriageway spur to Kilkenny city.

The completed M9 is expected to improve significantly access to Waterford regional airport, Belview port, Waterford Institute of Technology, Waterford Regional Hospital, Carlow Institute of Technology and a number of tourist destinations in the southeast region.

Towns bypassed from today will include Knocktopher, Stoneyford, Kilkenny, Paulstown, Thomastown, Dungarvan and Gowran.

Three major river crossings of the King’s River, the Nore and the Barrow presented significant challenges as they were located within a candidate Special Area of Conservation, according to the National Roads Authority.

The authority also said 110 archaeological sites were investigated and catalogued prior to the beginning of construction.

An opening ceremony will be performed by Minister for Transport Noel Dempsey at 11am today and is to be attended by former minister Martin Cullen, who fast tracked the completion of the motorway from an earlier proposed completion date of 2011.

The road is to open to the public immediately after this morning’s ceremony.

The National Roads Authority said traffic volumes on the route were expected to grow to 16,000 vehicles a day. The annual average daily traffic on the N9 in July 2009 was just over 11,000 vehicles per day.

The Dublin to Waterford motorway is also the Dublin to Cork route between Dublin and the M7/M9 junction near Kilcullen.

The new route from Kilcullen to Waterford city was developed in five sections:

The Carlow bypass, which opened in May 2008 at a cost of €216 million;

The Suir Bridge and Waterford city bypass, which opened in October 2009 at a cost of €255 million;

The Kilcullen to Carlow motorway, which opened in December 2009 at a cost of €307 million;

The Knocktopher to Waterford city bypass, which opened in June at a cost of €274 million;

Carlow to Knocktopher, which opens this morning and which cost €467 million.

The opening of the route means continuous motorway is now in place between Dublin and the regional cities of Waterford, Cork and Galway, with motorway access also between Dublin and the Meath-Cavan border and between Dublin and the Border with Northern Ireland. The motorway between Dublin and Limerick is expected to be completed before the end of the year.