Enniscorthy bypass will ‘utterly transform’ town

Opening of motorway section costing nearly €350 million set to end long tailbacks in Co Wexford town

The bypass cost nearly €350 million.  Photograph: M11 Gorey to Enniscorthy PPP Scheme website

The bypass cost nearly €350 million. Photograph: M11 Gorey to Enniscorthy PPP Scheme website

 

Long tailbacks in Enniscorthy in the heart of Co Wexford are set to become a thing of the past as locals finally welcome the opening on Thursday of a 26km bypass.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar will today officially open the motorway section, which has been ten years in the making, cost nearly €350 million and is being heralded as a gamechanger for Enniscorthy.

Although the town – including Enniscorthy Castle and St Aidan’s Cathedral – has lost none of its charm, it has many vacant properties. One whole side of Castle Street, for example, consists of vacant commercial units, and it’s a familiar sight elsewhere.

Enniscorthy constantly looks north to more successful neighbour Gorey, which is already bypassed, though others locally point to the less-successful experience felt by Arklow, Co Wicklow, once it was no longer on the main route.

A map of the Enniscorthy bypass. Image: M11 Gorey to Enniscorthy PPP Scheme website
A map of the Enniscorthy bypass. Image: M11 Gorey to Enniscorthy PPP Scheme website

However, Wexford County Council and local politicians believe a new era will be ushered in by the bypass, and a new Enniscorthy technology park is being built that officials hope will attract major businesses.

Local TD and Minister of State Paul Kehoe believes the new road can transform his hometown.

“We have a fantastic structure in Enniscorthy,” Mr Kehoe said. “We have great schools, the road and rail connection make Dublin accessible, and house prices are still significantly lower than they are further north in the likes of Gorey.

“For anyone looking to return or relocate to Enniscorthy, it’s the ideal time. People could save upwards of €50,000 on the price of a house and make a great life here for their family,” he said.

Backing the creation of the technology park, Mr Kehoe said: “Enniscorthy has always been the poor relation for IDA investment, so they’ve taken it upon themselves. Obviously everything like that is somewhat of a gamble, and I don’t think we’ll see the full benefit of it for a number of years, but I have full faith that, with the flood relief scheme coming down the line too, Enniscorthy is going to be utterly transformed for the better.”

Some have criticised where the new bypass ends, however - just south of Enniscorthy but north of the small village of Oylegate, meaning motorway traffic will pass through the village in more concentrated volumes.

Plans for a further stretch of motorway, bypassing Oylegate and going to Rosslare Europort are at the design phase, but construction is years away.

Concerns have been expressed over traffic in Oylegate emerging from a secondary road to join the traffic coming from the motorway on the N11.

Traffic lights fitted with sensors are to be installed at the junction. “Will it work? I suppose you’ll have to come back to me in a week or ten days,” said Willie Kavanagh, a local councillor and owner of one of Oylegate’s two pubs.

“I suppose in hindsight maybe the bypass of Oylegate should have been looked at from the start. Having said that 14,000 vehicles pass through the village every day on a 24-hour cycle. I don’t think that will change too much, but they’ll just be coming at us faster and more bunched up.”