Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen.
I would like to welcome you all here today to the official opening of the Mullingar Western Relief Road.
This project, which I have the pleasure of opening today, is the final link in the completion of the Mullingar Orbital Road. This project is a two-lane carriageway, 780 metres in length. It consists of the Joe Dolan memorial bridge, which crosses over the flood plain of the River Brosna and Lacy’s Canal and is 540 metres long with 20 spans and 240 metres of approach embankments.
I suppose it is a poignant time in ways as we dedicate the bridge to one of Mullingar’s most famous sons. Joe brought much pleasure and happiness to so many people with his own particular brand of music. I can think of no more fitting tribute than by naming this bridge as a long lasting ‘thank you’ to him for the joy and happiness he brought to so many people throughout his career and even still.
This road will relieve traffic congestion in Mullingar Town Centre by providing an alternative route for traffic. It will also greatly improve accessibility and allow traffic to travel in a complete circle around Mullingar Town.
The completion of this scheme will result in the full benefit of all the works already completed on the Mullingar Orbital Road to be fully realised. The increased level of access will improve the industrial and commercial potential of Mullingar Town, which will help with the protection and creation of jobs.
In addition, this road caters for the vulnerable road user by providing high quality footpaths and cycleways on both sides of the road. This will encourage people to avail of a fast, healthy and environmentally friendly alternative to taking the car. It will also contribute to safer journeys for motorists, pedestrians and cyclists alike and is another step towards a sustainable transport future for Ireland.
The total cost of this project was €19 million of which a total of almost €13 million was provided under the Regional and Local Roads Investment Programme to Westmeath County Council during the period 2006 to 2010.
This year, the Government is providing a budget of over €1.5 billion for the road network - €1.115 billion for the national road network and €411.4 million for the regional and local road network. This investment represents an average spend of €127 million every month. I believe that this investment demonstrates the Government’s continued commitment to developing our roads infrastructure to take full advantage of the upturn in the economy when it comes.
In conclusion, I would like to take this opportunity to thank Westmeath County Council and the contractor, Jons Civil Engineering Ltd. for their hard work. The people of Westmeath will benefit enormously from this new road in the years to come.
I now have great pleasure in declaring the Mullingar Western Relief Road open. I wish the users of this new road, safe and happy journeys in the years ahead.