Last stretches of M8 and M3 to open in time for June bank holiday traffic


THE FINAL section of the M8 motorway to Cork, and the M3 motorway past the Hill of Tara in Co Meath are to open in time for the June bank holiday weekend.

The two schemes will make it possible to travel on motorways from the outskirts of Cork via Dublin’s M50 and the M1, to the Border with Northern Ireland.

It will also be possible to travel on motorways from Cork to the Meath/Cavan border north of Kells. A motorway is already open from Dublin to Galway via the M4/M6. Motorways from Dublin to Limerick and from Dublin to Waterford are set to be completed later this year.

The National Roads Authority announced yesterday the final stretch of the M8, the wishbone shaped Portlaoise to Cullahill scheme, will open on May 28th. It will be followed by the controversial M3 motorway on June 4th.

There will be two tolls on each route and both will be open in time for the June bank holiday.

The opening of the €405 million Portlaoise to Cullahill scheme completes the State’s investment of almost €2.6 billion on the entire 250km route from Dublin’s M50 to Cork’s Dunkettle interchange. The cost works out at about €10.4 million a kilometre

The 40km Y-shaped section will take Cork-bound traffic from the existing Portlaoise bypass to the existing M8 at Cullahill. It will also take Limerick-bound traffic from the Portlaoise bypass to Castletown, where remaining sections of the M7 Limerick motorway are under construction.

The route will bypass the towns of Abbeyleix, Durrow and Cullahill in Co Laois and is expected to cut the journey time from the M50 to Dunkettle by as much as 45 minutes. At 250km, it should be possible to drive from the Red Cow and Dunkettle in about two hours and 30 minutes, allowing for lower speed limits along sections such as Newlands Cross in Dublin.

The 60km M3 motorway from Clonee on the Meath Dublin border to the Meath Cavan border provoked controversy, legal challenge and some direct action protests because of its route which passes through the Gabhra Valley between the hills of Tara and Skryne.

Complaints about the process which permitted the destruction of a national monument were also made to the EU, some of which are ongoing. The route is expected to greatly ease peak-time traffic between Kells and Dublin bypassing the towns of Dunboyne, Dunshaughlin, Navan and Kells.

There will be two tolls on each route. The M8 will feature a new toll on the Portlaoise to Cullahill section, costing €1.80 for a passenger car. This is in addition to the existing toll of €1.90 at Fermoy. The M3 will feature one at the Clonee end, the other at Kells. The charge will be €1.30 for a passenger car at each toll.