Limerick Tunnel Opens

Taoiseach Brian Cowen will open the long awaited Limerick Tunnel today at 1pm.

The route now cuts under the River Shannon and links Coonagh on the northern bank with Bunlicky on the southern bank.

There are two toll plazas located on the north side of the river and it will cost €1.80 for a car to use the tunnel, which is expected to cut some journey times by up to 30 minutes.

Speaking ahead of the opening, Brian Cowen said: “The new Limerick tunnel is an historic crossing under the river Shannon. It is a key element in our national road infrastructure and is vitally important to the people of the Mid-West. As the world economy improves, it is important to remember all the positive things happening in our country.

"More than €1.4 billion will be spent this year on our national, regional and local road infrastructure. This level of investment provides a much needed fiscal stimulus around the country and also helps maintain thousands of jobs. The delivery of these vital routes has transformed our national road network beyond all recognition. This investment will make us more competitive and help support jobs and economic growth as the global economy recovers”

The tunnel took four years to construct at a capital cost of €605m and finished within budget and ahead of schedule. A spokesman for the National Road Authority said the tunnel will have the capacity to take approximately 40,000 vehicles out of Limerick city centre, helping to ease traffic congestion in the city centre, enhance business, lower CO2 emissions and improve air quality.

Minister for Transport Noel Dempsey said the tunnel is the outcome of many years of "vision and effort".

"By the end of 2010 all our major cities, together with towns and villages between them will be accessible via a world class road network, which will offer safer and more reliable travel for people. I wish a safe journey to everyone travelling on this motorway and I ask all who drive on it to behave courteously to other road users."

Peter Malone, Chairman of the National Roads Authority, added that drivers can now bypass the notorious bottleneck along the Dock road in Limerick City and travel under the river Shannon, to and from Shannon Airport, Ennis Town, and on to County Galway. He said the tunnel would contribute positively to growth in tourism, high end manufacturing and growing business services sector throughout the entire Midwest.


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