Check against delivery
Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen.
I would like to welcome you all here today to the official opening of Phase 1 of the Midleton Northern Relief Road.
This is the first section, 1.6 kilometres long, of what will be a 5 kilometre relief road.
These road works form part of a much larger development, which will, among other things, see the re-opening of the Glounthaune to Midleton rail line later this summer – I had the pleasure earlier this morning of officially opening the Midleton railway station. This part of the country really is seeing a revolution in its transport infrastructure.
The new Midleton railway station is located east of the Mill Road and an automated level crossing will be provided where the railway line meets the R626 Mill Road.
The construction of this new relief road allows motorists to avoid the Mill Road level crossing thereby alleviating potential traffic delays at that location. The new road also eliminates the Kennel Boreen level crossing (which serves existing industrial developments), thus enhancing the operation of the railway line when it is reopened.
The close co – operation between Cork County Council and Íarnróid Éireann on these rail and road projects, and the funding mechanism operated by the Department of Transport shows that an integrated approach is being taken both at local and at National level.
Today’s road opening is aimed at facilitating the expansion of Midleton. In due course, the improvement to your local road and rail networks will increase everyone’s quality of life and facilitate local travel.
We all know there are severe constraints on Exchequer finances.
However, this year, the Government is providing a budget of nearly €1.9 billion for the road network - €1.439 billion for the national road network and €447.5 million for the regional and local road network.
This is one of the largest single annual investments in roads infrastructure in the history of the State and represents an average investment of almost €160 million every month.
This demonstrates this Government’s commitment to provide for an infrastructure that will allow us to take full advantage of the upturn in the economy when it comes.
While most of the investment is in the national road network, we are also committed to the development and maintenance of the regional and local road network.
This network links communities, supports balanced regional development and plays a vital if often-unacknowledged role in the success of our economy. 94% of our public roads are regional and local roads.
These roads carry 59% of all road traffic and, perhaps to the surprise of many people, 43% of our goods traffic.
The overall aim of the development of our regional and local road network is to make both urban and rural areas more attractive places to live in, work in and visit. In these difficult times, this is more important than ever.
I now have great pleasure in declaring Phase 1 of the Midleton Northern Relief Road open.
I wish the users of this new road safe and happy driving in the years ahead.