By Claire O’Brien

The final section of the M6 motorway, linking Ballinasloe and Galway, is to be opened this morning (Friday ) by Minister for Transport Noel Dempsey.

It is expected that by 2pm this afternoon motorists will be able to take to the new stretch of road, with Athlone natives set to reach Galway in approximately an hour. Meanwhile journey times between Dublin and Galway are expected to plummet to two hours.

The new 56km stretch of motorway completes the Dublin to Galway inter-urban route, and has been delivered four months ahead of schedule and on budget. The much anticipated M6 motorway will allow motorists to bypass bottlenecks such as Ballinasloe, Loughrea, Craughwell, and Oranmore.

Minister Dempsey is expected to comment this morning on the significant benefits the opening represents for the entire western region.

The final stretch of the M6 runs from the outskirts of Galway city to Athenry where it crosses the Galway/Dublin rail line, and then continues southeast to Carrowkeel junction from where the Loughrea link road proceeds south to the Loughrea Bypass. The route then continues northeast to the proposed toll plaza located near Cappataggle. The route then passes north of Aughrim village, continuing east again where it ties into the existing M6 east of Ballinasloe.

The cost of cars passing through the Cappataggle toll will be €1.90, which, on top of the existing toll at Enfield, will bring the total cost of a one-way trip between Galway to Dublin to €3.80.

According to chairman of the National Roads Authority, Peter Malone, the opening of the M6 Galway to Ballinalsoe motorway is an historic event because this is the first major inter-urban corridor connecting city to city.

“From Galway to Dublin we now have motorway/dual carriageway for 194km. The benefits from a road safety standpoint and improved quality of life will be felt by all the residents of the cities, towns, and villages along the entire route.

“It is great to see first hand this Government’s plan to invest and improve road infrastructure, under Transport 21, come to fruition. Just think, you will now be able to travel from the M50 to Galway city in just over 2 hours approximately. It is fantastic for business, tourism and all roads users.”

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