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Irish Motorways


In 2005, the National Roads Authority in Ireland began an ambitious construction program to complete 5 major interurban (Dublin to a distant city) motorways by 2010.  These motorways are:

* M1 (north): Dublin to Dundalk
* M6 (west): Dublin to Galway
* M7 (west-southwest): Dublin to Limerick
* M8 (southwest): Dublin to Cork
* M9 (south-southwest): Dublin to WaterfordSome N routes (national highway system) will fill in existing expressway gaps as part of the interurban motorways (E.g., N6 forms the Athlone bypass in the middle of the M6 route. N6 is older a little substandard for a motorway, and so it cannot be called M6, but it functions as part of the full M6 route.)

(The full program is explained at the NRA site:
and details are at the Transport21 site:

Now it's 2010, and the final pieces of the motorways are coming together.  It's a big year for the Irish road enthusiasts.  Many "missing" motorway sections are opening.  Travel times across the country are dropping.  There are two direct options instead of one to explore on cross-country trips, the old slow route and the new fast route.  Most of the 5-motorways goal is still on track. 

M6-N6 was completed to Limerick last Dec.  Three new sections of M7 opened between last Dec. and last week, and aside from an uncooperative bog frustrating the builders west of Nenagh, M7-N7 will be complete to Galway in October.  M8-N8 was completed last week to Cork.  M9-N9 will be complete to Waterford in September.  M1-N1 was completed to Newry in Northern Ireland in 2007.

Here are maps of the system from the past year to show recent changes.
August 2009:

June 2010:

The full motorway system presently spans about 485 miles, about the same as the Interstate system in Nebraska.  About 270 miles are new since 2006. Another 68 miles are set to open before 2010 ends.

After 2010 ends, most of motorway part of the program will have finished.  The years 2011-2015 will see less building due to the recession, but many upgrades of N routes to divided arterials/expressways are planned, largely on the "Atlantic Corridor" to connect the same cities of Waterford, Cork, Limerick, and Galway to Letterkenny without going through Dublin.

Transport21 offers this map of the national roads plan for 2015: is an Ireland-oriented forum that includes an Infrastructure section.  It's a great Irish roads version of a forum like AARoads where you can see the latest construction reports, complaints about highways, photos of the new motorways the day they open, and other related topics.
The SABRE (UK) community also covers Ireland:


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