BaileNuachtCartlann Aitheasc agus Preaseisiúintí

Speech by the Taoiseach, Mr. Brian Cowen, T.D., at the Official Opening of the N52 Tullamore Bypass on Friday, 23rd October, 2009 at 2.00pm


A dhaoine uaisle;

Is cúis áthais dom a bheith i bhur dteannta inniu chun Seachród Tullach Mhóir - an N Caoga dó - a oscailt go hoifigiúil. Céim ar aghaidh eile is ea é sa feabhas leanúnach atá ag tarlú sa ghréasán náisiúnta bóthar. Tacaíonn tograí mar seo leis an bhfás leanúnach i gcúrsaí ecnamaíochta agus sóisialta na tíre. Leis an laghdú mór tráchta ag bogadh tríd an bhaile, tiocfaidh feabhas suntasach i saol mhuintir Tullach Mhóir agus an cheantair máguaird.

It is a great pleasure to be here with you today to officially open the N52 Tullamore Bypass - delivered 10 months ahead of schedule and within budget. Following on from Monday's opening of the Waterford Bypass, this represents another important step in the continuing improvement of our national road network.

The Bypass Scheme
The scheme consists of 14km of standard and wide single carriageway and involved the construction of six underbridges and one overbridge. The total cost of €116 million has been co-financed by the EU Regional Development Fund and by the Government.

The Bypass will improve connectivity between the linked gateway towns of Athlone, Tullamore and Mullingar, in line with our National Spatial Strategy and provide access to the M6 Dublin to Galway route. It will result in improved journey times, as well as reduced transport costs and greater efficiency in the transportation of goods. This is good news for the business community in the region.

The Bypass will also make a big difference to Tullamore itself. The removal of 10,000 vehicles a day from our town will give the streets back to the residents. The reduction in traffic congestion, noise levels and air pollution will greatly improve the quality of life in the town and make things easier for the local business community. Residents and visitors alike will be able to enjoy the amenities we have in a safer and more relaxed atmosphere.

The scheme incorporates a sensitive balancing of environment, heritage and development issues. Thanks to the co-operative and positive engagement of all concerned, it respects the woodland and lake of Charleville and the built heritage of the Charleville Demesne.

All in all, the Tullamore Bypass will have a very positive impact in economic, social and environmental terms on the town and the entire region.

National Roads
Of course, we have to view progress we make on national road schemes within the context of the challenging financial times ahead. The focus up to 2010 is on 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. The M1 is already open and the others are well advanced and on target for completion by 2010. The commencement date for projects post 2010 will be determined by the funding available at the time.

Many schemes in this region, such as the N6 Kilbeggan to Kinnegad, N6 Kilbeggan to Athlone and N52 Mullingar Belvedere, have been completed in recent years. Also, the N52 Kilbeggan to Tullamore and the N52 Carrickbridge to Clonfad are at planning stage.

These major improvements of our national roads will ensure that we have an infrastructure capable of providing a high standard of connectivity, both within the country and beyond. This will attract and support inward investment in the local economy as economic growth returns, as well as in the longer term.

Transport 21
Despite the current economic challenges, very significant investment is being made in Ireland's road, rail, bus, tram, metro and regional airports, under Transport 21. It is transforming the quality of life of families and commuters, linking communities together, and making it easier to do business right across Ireland.

The cumulative Exchequer expenditure on Transport 21 projects and programmes over its first three years was almost €6.8 billion. In 2009, over €2 billion has been allocated. As well as providing large sums for national road development, these huge levels of investment include substantial funding for Public Transport projects - over €1.5 billion in 2008 and 2009. Ireland needs a first class transport system and we have been making great progress towards achieving that.

Roads like this are not built without the cooperative effort of many groups, individuals and agencies. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all involved in bringing this scheme to fruition. In particular, I would like to thank:

The National Roads Authority; Offaly County Council; Westmeath County Council National Roads Design Offfice; Contractors: Graham - PT McWilliams joint venture; Employers Representative: Jacobs UK Limited;The landowners in the region; and Everyone else who had a role - big or small - in the scheme.

All that remains is for me to wish all road users happy and safe journeys on this and all the other roads of this country. Take care and be safe.