Check against delivery
I am delighted to be here today to officiate at the opening of the N18 Gort to Crusheen scheme. Today marks yet another milestone event in the upgrading of our national road network. This new stretch is 22 km of motorway extending from Ballingers Corner, north of Gort, to Craggard, south of Crusheen, where it ties in with the N18 Ennis bypass.
This road is also part of the Atlantic Road Corridor. A corridor that stretches from Letterkenny to Waterford via Sligo, Tuam, Ennis, Limerick, Mallow & Cork.
While progress on road schemes over the coming years will be dependent on the availability of funds within a much reduced capital budget, a number of important schemes have been completed along the corridor in recent years.
This includes the N18 Ennis By-pass, N25 Waterford City By-pass and the N7 Limerick Tunnel project which opened earlier this year.
In addition work is due to commence next year on the M17/M18 Gort to Tuam scheme which, when completed, will make a very big difference to the west of Ireland and in particular those living in Claregalway, Ardrahan, Kilcolgan, Clarinbridge and the other towns and villages that will be bypassed by the road scheme not to mention Gort and Tuam themselves.
In addition the delivery of the major inter-urban routes between Dublin and the Border on the M1, the N4/6 to Galway, the N7 to Limerick, the N8 to Cork and the N9 to Waterford along with the scheduled completion of the M7 will boost direct access to the regions for industry and tourism.
This new Gort to Crusheen section of road will greatly improve safety and reduce journey times for traffic travelling north-south along the Atlantic corridor. It will improve connectivity and journey time predictability between Dublin and the western region. Something that is really important to the functioning of our economy.
This new road provides reassurance to businesses investing in the area that raw materials and exports can be moved with the minimum of cost and the maximum of efficiency. No need to be stuck in traffic jams.
Those who travel between Galway, Shannon airport and Limerick will now be able to better predict their journey times. Thanks to this new road such commuters can expect new time savings of up to 20 minutes at peak times on those journeys.
People love new roads – they make life easier. We all want to keep investing in our roads and public transport but we have entered more challenging times for our economy so new road openings will be a little frequent in the near term. Having said that we are far better equipped now to meet the challenges posed by these difficult times than ever before. When it comes to transport infrastructure, both in this region and countrywide, the capital investment programme which the government has put in place leaves us well positioned to weather the immediate difficulties and to take early advantage of a return to economic growth.
The opening of this project today, together with the soon to be completed M7 Castletown to Nenagh scheme and the Limerick Tunnel project are clear evidence of this Government’s commitment to the development of this region.
Finally in closing, I would like to express my gratitude to the National Roads Authority and the construction company on this project, SIAC Willis Brothers (Joint Venture), the Engineers, Jacobs, and last, but by no means least, the staff of Galway County Council. Well done, one and all.