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Official opening of the M4 Kilcock-Enfield-Kinnegad Bypass Scheme.


I am proud to mark the opening of such a vitally important link in Ireland’s road network today.  This bypass, delivered on budget and 10 months early, significantly enhances access to and from the west of Ireland and Dublin.  It will also greatly improve travel times and safety on this route. 

The critical importance of a well functioning transport infrastructure for the economic and social life of the country, and for our quality of life in general, is well recognised by this Government.  We are actively redressing serious past underinvestment in this infrastructure.  At the same time we are coping with phenomenal growth in traffic as a result of our ongoing exceptional economic performance. 

Since 1995, we have concentrated our transport investment in the construction of high-quality roads while also upgrading our railway lines and services, building LUAS and implementing other measures such as the Quality Bus Corridors.

A well-developed national road network is also of major importance in meeting the competitiveness challenges that face our economy.  Despite the record investment of the last ten years, it was growing increasingly clear that a radical development was required.  This is to enable us make the major leap forward required to bring our transport infrastructure and services up to the standard required for a 21st century, first-world economy.

Transport 21

The objective of Transport 21 is to transform Ireland’s transport network into one that is world-class.  This represents a strengthening of the Government’s commitment to ensure that Ireland has a transport network to match and support its buoyant economy. 

The Government is committed to achieving more balanced regional development throughout the State.  In line with this, Transport 21 has been developed in particular to support the Government’s National Spatial Strategy 2002-2020.  Transport 21 will connect regions, cities and towns with each other.  It will also connect key economic gateways such as airports and seaports.  This is vital for the economic well-being of the country, enabling us to move our goods into, out of, and around the country as seamlessly as possible.

In this way, we will ensure that location becomes less of a factor in people’s decisions about where to live and work and also in investors’ decisions about where to locate their factories and offices. 

Above all, it provides all regions with the opportunity to compete on a more equal basis.

The Government recognises the strong correlation between a good transportation system and a sound economy.  And it is the strength of that economy that is providing the resources to fund Transport 21.  In turn, this will increase the capacity of this country and its regions to grow and develop for the benefit of all our citizens.

Improved delivery of transport infrastructure

The successful upgrading of our transport infrastructure requires more than huge levels of investment however.  We must continue to improve our performance in the delivery of major infrastructure on time and within budget. 

In recent years, our record in this respect has improved markedly.  For example, 20 of the 23 national road projects currently in construction are within budget.  Of the 24 major road schemes that were completed and opened to traffic in the years 2003, 2004 and 2005, the total final outturn cost amounted to just 5% over the cost estimate at contract award stage.

This performance reflects the measures that have been taken by the National Roads Authority to strengthen cost estimation, control systems and procurement practices.  A key element of these improvements has been the greater use of the Design and Build form of contract.  We are also now seeing the coming on stream of PPP contracts.

PPP programme

A wide-ranging PPP programme has been embarked upon by this Government.  This high quality road, delivered as I have said on budget and 10 months early, is an evident manifestation of the value of the roads’ PPP programme. 

Adopting a PPP approach for certain suitable road projects not only provides certainty regarding Exchequer funding exposure.  It also ensures that much needed road infrastructure is delivered earlier through the injection of additional private finance.  The approach maximises efficiency and value for money through effective risk transfer and securing private sector expertise and flexibility.  The scale of these PPPs and certain Design and Build projects has also managed to attract a high level of foreign contractor interest.  This has increased competition and ensured even greater value for money.

Toll based PPPs are a comparatively new way of doing business for us.  I think you will all agree, however, that we are getting value for the toll we pay.  The high standard of this road, and its delivery earlier than would have been possible if we were solely reliant on taxpayers’ money, represent tangible benefits. 

The old road remains as an alternative toll-free route should certain motorists prefer.  However, I am confident that most users will not choose to forego the improved service and shorter journey time this road offers.

We are spreading toll roads geographically across the main national routes.  This will create regional equality in the spread of both toll charges and the benefits of accelerated delivery of the road projects concerned and improved levels of service and safety throughout the country.


In conclusion, I would like to thank all involved in the delivery of this marvellous piece of infrastructure.   In particular, I would like to congratulate the NRA, local authorities, consultants, the construction industry on the progress that has been made to date not only on this project, but also on all road projects.

Thank you.