New motorway services open after five years of €19,000 monthly bill

€575,000 legal bill part of settlement in plans for services at Gorey, Kilcullen and Moate.

Transport Infrastructure Ireland last opened motorways services in 2009, when three locations at Enfield on the M4, and Lusk and Castlebellingham on the M1 were opened. Photograph: Getty

Transport Infrastructure Ireland last opened motorways services in 2009, when three locations at Enfield on the M4, and Lusk and Castlebellingham on the M1 were opened. Photograph: Getty

 

Five years after the publication of a tender for the operation of motorways services near Gorey, Co Wexford, an official opening has been scheduled for March 28th.

The Gorey services were part of a tranche of three motorway service areas which Transport Infrastructure Ireland planned for Gorey on the M11, Kilcullen Co Kildare on the M9, and near Moate on the M6 in Co Galway.

But all three services, built as part of a public private partnership, were subjected to a long delay after an unsuccessful candidate sought a judicial review of the award of the operating concession for the three facilities.

The case was eventually withdrawn by agreement in April 2017, but TII was left with a legal bill of €575,000 for its own costs.

Monthly bill

TII was also left with a €19,500 a month bill for lighting and security costs at the Gorey services, which, unlike the other two, had already been built. Security and lighting in Gorey amounted to some €720,000 by mid 2018.

In addition to the costs incurred at Gorey, TII also invested in site access works at Kilcullen and Moate at a cost of €19 million. These were completed in March 2015 but remain unused since due to the legal challenge.

TII chief executive Michael Nolan told the Oireachtas Committee on Transport there were further “social costs” associated with the challenge of the procurement decision. “Resolving this legal challenge introduced significant delays to the delivery of this important infrastructure project. These social costs relate to the unavailability of these facilities, which will provide safety benefits to the road user” he said.

It is understood the contract for the concession on the three service areas cost Circle K some €25 million and there will be no ongoing payments form TII to the concessionaire during the contract term . In fact, Mr Nolan said “ the taxpayer will benefit from revenue share payments” in relation to income at the service areas.

Circle K’s Canadian parent company, Alimentation Couche-Tard, bought Topaz from Denis O’Brien in 2016. Sources indicated Circle K has taken a 25-year lease on the three sites and will pay to build the shops and restaurants at Kilcullen and Moate.

Charging points

All of the the services are understood to include charging points for electric vehicles, restaurants and washroom facilities.

Transport Infrastructure Ireland last opened motorways services in 2009, when three locations at Enfield on the M4, and Lusk and Castlebellingham on the M1 were opened. The authority said the economic crash in 2010 then put such ventures on hold.

In 2017 TII opened the M17/18 Gort to Tuam motorway which provided a 100km route from Ennis, Co Clare, to Tuam, Co Galway, where there was nowhere drivers and their passengers could stop to eat, drink or use toilets .

The Road Safety Strategy sets out an action plan for 2013-2020 which includes education, engineering, enforcement and research measures. There is an engineering measure which deals specifically with “the provision of at least five new service areas on or immediately adjacent to the motorway network by 2020”

The strategy does not specify the locations for service areas on the motorway network