The final 56 kilometres of the M6 motorway, linking Ballinasloe and Galway, is to open next Friday, six months ahead of schedule.
The stretch of road is expected to be open to motorists by the afternoon of next Friday December 18, following the official opening ceremony by Minister for Transport Noel Dempsey that morning.
Once the route is open, motorists will be able to travel from Athlone to Galway in approximately one hour, while it is estimated that journey times between Dublin and Galway will be slashed to two hours.
Originally planned to come on stream in mid-2010, the completion of the country’s newest stretch of motorway has come in approximately six months ahead of schedule.
However members of the public were treated to a sneak preview of the route in recent weeks, when one carriageway was opened to facilitate motorists during the flooding.
“The contractor, Icon, has done a great job. It is a tribute to the contractor and the NRA that the road is to open ahead of schedule, and that it was able to open to motorists in recent weeks,” said a spokesperson for the NRA.
The M6 Galway to Ballinasloe scheme consists of 56 kilometres of dual carriageway between Galway and Ballinasloe, a 7km link to the Loughrea bypass, 32km of side roads, and five grade separated junctions at Glennascaul, Athenry, Carrowkeel, West Ballinasloe, and Tulrush.
Two toll charges will now apply to motorists travelling to and from Dublin, with a charge of €1.90 at a toll plaza at Cappataggle near Ballinasloe, on top of the existing charge of €2.90 at Kinnegad.