A new motorway delayed from opening after part of the road sank into a bog finally carried its first motorists today.
The 12.5km stretch of the M7 from Birdhill to Annacotty in Co Limerick will cut journey times for 20,000 vehicles and take traffic away from two accident black spots.
About 100m of the road through the Anaholty bog had to be reconstructed and then re-tested over the last few months after it unexpectedly started to sink into the bog.
The National Roads Authority (NRA) claimed that tried and tested building methods had been used in the original construction, including piled embankments, over 3.5km of bog.
Contractor Bothar Hibernian had to replace a number of piles and put in a reinforced concrete slab over the length of the subsided land.
Noel Dempsey, Transport Minister, said: “The new 38km section of the M7 motorway between Nenagh and Limerick is another major step in improving road safety by removing high volumes of traffic from serious accident locations such as Daly’s Cross and Yellow Bridge.
“The transformation of road infrastructure throughout Ireland over the last few years has been enormous and it will offer a significant return on investment for generations to come.”
The NRA said the stretch of the road built on the Annaholty and Drominboy Bogs made up about 10% of the total length of the new motorway.
The project cost €424m.
The final section of the M7, from Castletown in Co Laois to Nenagh, Co Tipperary, will open later this year completing the M7 Limerick-Dublin motorway.
The new road bypasses Birdhill, Daly’s Cross and the Lisnagry rail level crossing.