Meath Chronicle: June bank holiday weekend to see opening of new M3
- June bank holiday weekend to see opening of new M3
Published: Wednesday, 28th April, 2010 4:58pm
The M3 motorway is due to open on Friday 4th June, according to the Minister for Transport Noel Dempsey, who toured the route of the almost completed motorway on Friday morning last, accompanied by local public representatives.
The M3 Clonee to North of Kells is approximately 63km long, made up of 49km of motorway from Clonee to Kells, 10km of dual carriageway from Kells to Carnaross, north of Kells; 3.8km of two-lane single carriageway on the N52 Kells bypass and 15km of link roads, both single and dual carriageway.
Other major works have included the southern toll plaza at Black Bull, located north of the Black Bull overbridge, and the northern toll plaza at Grange, west of White's Quarry, near Kells.
The imminent opening of the M3 motorway is one of the "most significant developments in living memory for County Meath," said the Fianna Fail whip on Meath County Council, Cllr Shane Cassells, who accompanied the minister on the tour.
In an early morning 7am tour of the 61km motorway, the Fianna Fail members of Meath County Council, along with the party's four TDs, examined how finishing touches were being made to what is the largest road project to be opened in Ireland this year.
During the Meath by-election of 2005, in which Cllr Cassells stood for Fianna Fail, he recalled that a large part of the debate centred on the route of the M3 which, at the time, was awaiting approval by the then Minister for Environment, Dick Roche.
Cllr Cassells said he was a steadfast supporter of the route and construction of the motorway and was highly critical of all opposition groups, including Labour and Sinn Fein, who attempted to stall commencement works. Five years on and with the project now on the verge of completion, he expressed his delight that Meath and its key towns are set to benefit from the opening of the road.
"It was fantastic to get the opportunity to travel along the M3 last Friday and see the tangible reward for all of the political debate," remarked Cllr Cassells. "At a time when we need to utilise every opportunity to boost the economy of this county, this really is a huge shot in the arm for companies and prospective clients as we market Meath as a centre for business.
"This will be one of the biggest road projects unveiled in Europe this year and my aim is to see us use this €700m investment in our county to the maximum effect. It is just over three years since the first sod was turned on the site in April 2007 by the then Minister for Transport, Martin Cullen, although approval for the project had been granted as far back as 2003."
Stops were held by the touring party last Friday at various points along the route to indicate the benefits to the various towns which the motorway will bypass - these include Kells, Navan, Dunshaughlin and Dunboyne.
There are seven grade-separated junctions (or interchanges) at Pace, Dunshaughlin, Blundelstown, Kilcarn, Athboy Road (N51) and Kilmainham; five primary at-grade junctions at Kilcarn roundabout, Athboy roundabout, Mullingar Road twin roundabouts, N52 Kells bypass roundabouts, and Kells to North of Kells roundabouts.
Other significant junctions include the R157/Dunboyne bypass roundabout, R156/Dunboyne bypass roundabout, N3/Pace Interchange roundabout, N3 and R154/R155 roundabout, Dunshaughlin/Dunsany roundabout, Dunshaughlin/N3 roundabout and the Trim/R154 roundabout, in addition to 34 overbridges, carrying existing roads over the new motorway; 29 underbridges and/or underpasses; two river crossing bridges, one footbridge, 12 retaining wall structures and 28 major drainage culverts.
Minister Dempsey met with Deputy Mary Wallace, Cllr Noel Leonard and Cllr Nick Killian to travel a section of the motorway at the Dunshaughlin interchange, Fairyhouse/Black Bull and Pace, Dunboyne. They had a separate meeting with the National Roads Authority (NRA) regarding the necessity for improvements for pedestrians, particularly on the Dunshaughlin interchange roundabouts. Deputy Wallace said the NRA has agreed that further works will carried out to improve access to these roundabouts, where possible.
A meeting at Dunshaughlin Community Centre on Monday night heard claims of how the M3 access roundabouts continue to defy the environmental and safety regulations of both Ireland and the EU.
Dr Mary Benson, lecturer in Sociology at National University of Ireland Maynooth, outlined how the new roads split communities and are in direct contravention of the Government's own health and safety objectives. At the meeting, which had been called by the M3 Roundabouts Action Group, local residents provided an overview of how requests for dialogue have been consistently ignored since as early as 2002.
They described how a litany of broken promises, lack of response and unwillingness to engage in dialogue have not only led to frustration, but have made the roads even more dangerous. Local councillors pledged their continued support for the group, which now has its own website, www.m3roundabouts.org
Both the NRA and Meath County Council did not attend the meeting and new proposed footpath plans - emailed by the NRA two hours before the meeting - did nothing to reassure local residents who are looking for a well thought-out solution, not just "some apparently randomly placed green lines on a diagram", according to Anne Tuite, chairperson of the campaign. There were calls for the Minister of Transport to intervene and let common sense prevail.
The M3 Roundabouts Action Group was started two months ago by Dunshaughlin residents and is fast gathering momentum as residents in towns and villages all along the M3 join forces to get a proper solution to their concerns.