The 53km M18 Tuam to Gort motorway, which was first used by vehicles last evening will boost tourism and employment opportunities in a whole new region, Transport Minister Shane Ross said at the opening yesterday morning.
The Gort-Tuam Public Private Partnership (PPP ) scheme, which also includes a 4km Tuam bypass is one of three road PPP projects included in the Government’s Financial Stimulus Package 2012 and was completed months ahead of schedule by a combination of three construction companies.
Speaking at the opening Minister Ross said: “This is my first major road opening as Minister for Transport so I am delighted that the M17/18 road scheme has been completed two months ahead of schedule and on budget. This new motorway is a huge boost for the western seaboard area. It will enhance employment opportunities, benefit tourism and help address traffic bottlenecks at Tuam, Claregalway, Oranmore, Clarinbridge, Kilcolgan and Gort,” he said, adding that it is welcome that there are no tolls on the new motorway.
The new motorway was also welcomed by Pat Lucey, managing director of Civils UK & Ireland at John Sisk & Son who said the 56km of new road will bring a huge improvement to connectivity west of the Shannon.
“Multi-national companies like Apple are showing great vision in planning a major facility close to the new interchange on the M6 which is 180km from the M50, 69km from Shannon Airport and 80km from Knock Airport. It’s the type of development that is needed to counteract the regional imbalance and it is infrastructure like this that makes it possible,” he added.
Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform, Paschal Donohoe TD, also welcomed the opening of the motorway, which he noted had been delivered by PPP, two months ahead of schedule saying the opening of the M17/M18 Gort to Tuam PPP motorway marks yet another major milestone in the delivery of the Government’s PPP programme and represents a significant investment by the Government in national infrastructure in the west of Ireland.
“The new road will reduce journey times and increase safety while also representing a major step in enhancing regional connectivity in the West.”
The road will be of motorway standard from Gort to the Kilmore junction near Tuam (a distance of 53.2km ) and a dual carriageway type two cross section from the Kilmore roundabout to the Mountpotter roundabout north of Tuam (a distance of 4.2km ).
Michael Nolan, CEO of Transport Infrastructure Ireland, said that yesterday’s opening marks a significant milestone for TII in delivering on its remit to provide a safe and efficient network of national roads.
“The M17/M18 Gort to Tuam motorway enhances connectivity along the Atlantic corridor and also provides a strategic national link across the country through the M6 Rathmorrissy junction.”
The former Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, turned the sod on the Gort to Tuam scheme in May 2014 and the scheme is now open after just over three years of construction by the Direct Route Consortium.