The opening of the Limerick Tunnel will significantly enhance the environment in Limerick city and surrounding area by removing up to 40,000 vehicles from existing roads, reducing traffic congestion and improving air quality, while cutting travel times.
Construction work on the project, which commenced in August 2006 and for which Limerick County Council acted as lead authority through the planning phases, has been completed over a month ahead of the scheduled completion date of September 2010. It is one of the largest infrastructural projects ever undertaken in the Mid-West region.
The Eur660m project represents the second phase of the Limerick Southern Ring Road Scheme, connecting the N7 at Rosbrien to the N18 Ennis Road at Cratloe Castle (just beyond the Radisson SAS Hotel). The 10km section of new road and tunnel will provide improved access times for commuters to the various industrial estates, as well as access to outlying towns and to Shannon Airport, Galway Dublin and Cork.
“This project is the most significant infrastructural project completed in the Mid West Region since the Shannon Scheme, and I expect its impact on the region will, in time, be seen to match that of the Shannon Scheme. It facilitates interconnectivity between all the national routes converging on Limerick City, and will significantly reduce journey times for traffic wishing to cross the Shannon,” says Cllr. Richard Butler, Cathaoirleach of Limerick County Council.
He continues: “With the potential to remove up to 40,000 vehicles a day, which would otherwise clog up existing routes and which lead to gridlock now experienced by many on a daily basis, the completion of the project presents great opportunities for the people of Limerick city and environs, including the easing of traffic congestion, improvement in air quality and scope for further pedestrianisation of city centre streets and development of bus corridor schemes
According to Cllr. Maria Byrne, Mayor of Limerick: “The project will reduce very significantly the volumes of traffic moving through the city centre, thus enabling the City Council to advance its City Centre Strategy, involving pedestrianisation and significant upgrading of the public realm. The attractiveness of the city as a place in which to do business will be greatly enhanced. There will also be benefits in reduced costs and travel time for our citizens and businesses on both sides of our great river.”
The Limerick Tunnel Project was procured as a public private partnership scheme. A 35-year concession to carry out detailed design, construction, operation and maintenance of the tunnel and road was awarded to a company called DirectRoute (Limerick) by the National Roads Authority. DirectRoute will operate the tunnel and derive the benefit of the tolls payable until 2041. DirectRoute (Limerick) comprises of six shareholders, including John Sisk & Son, Roadbridge, Lagan, Strabag, AIB & Meridiam Infrastructure Finance.