Commuters travelling from Clare to Galway could have as much as two and a half hours extra free time each week when the new Gort to Crusheen bypass opens next month.
The 22-kilometre length of dual carriageway stretching from Ballyline, north of Ennis, to Ballinger’s Corner, north of Gort, will be officially opened on November 12 and is expected to reduce travel times between Ennis and Galway by as much as 15 minutes.
The sod was officially turned on the €207 million piece of infrastructure in late 2008, with work not expected to be completed until next year.
“It is nearly a year ahead of schedule. It was due to open in the third quarter of next year. The significant timesavings on this project was to the credit of the contractor, SIAC Wills JV Ltd. They set up a batch plant to create materials on site,” said a spokesperson for the National Roads Authority, something which resulted in fewer delays than might otherwise be expected.
The new road is to form the next phase of the Atlantic Corridor, which it is planned will eventually link Letterkenny to Waterford.
“This is a significant development in the creation of the Atlantic Corridor. The follow-on contract is to begin early in the new year and this will consist of a 58-km dual carriageway from Gort to Tuam. A preferred bidder has been identified and work is to commence early in 2011. This work is likely to take approximately three years. It is a public private partnership project with deferred payment and the current plan is for it not to be tolled but that is a decision for the Government,” the NRA spokesperson continued.
According to the NRA, the opening of the Gort to Crusheen bypass next month could cut as much as 15 minutes per day off commutes from Ennis to Galway currently delayed by congestion at Gort during peak times.
“The biggest benefit of this 22km piece of infrastructure is that it will allow easier access to Galway, removing Gort from the equation. Bypassing Gort will ease traffic congestion on the N18 dramatically,” the spokesperson concluded.
Clare County Council senior engineer Tom Tiernan has said the new motorway will be a “tremendous benefit to the county and the region”.
“It will provide further enhancement of the benefits already generated by the Ennis bypass and the previous stages of development of the route towards Limerick and the Limerick Tunnel project in that accessibility to Shannon Airport, Ennis and other centres around Clare, as well as the several quality visitor destinations which the county has to offer, will be greatly improved, particularly from the point of view of commuters coming from Connaught and the North West,” Mr Tiernan commented.