THE National Roads Authority (NRA) is to spend €200,000 on signs to direct motorists to services in towns and cities in response to criticism over the lack of service stations and lay-bys on the country’s motorway network.
The NRA revealed the signs will be erected on all the major inter-urban routes by the end of October to indicate the location of motorway and “off-line” services.
The first motorway service area will open tomorrow on the M1 at Lusk, Co Dublin between junctions 4 and 5.
Another service area on the same motorway will open at Castlebellingham, Co Louth, on September 29, while a service station will also be opened on the M4 west of Enfield, Co Meath, on October 6.
Advance blue signs will be provided at or close to the start of both ends of each inter-urban route in English and Irish. They will indicate the distances to junctions where motorists can leave the motorway to access nearby services.
Brown road signs, indicating the availability of certain services like fuel, refreshments and toilet facilities, will be placed near the exit for the relevant junctions.
The NRA first revealed the location for 12 planned motorway service stations in September 2006 following calls by the then Transport Minister Martin Cullen for a review of the NRA’s long held-policy to oppose the provision of facilities at the side of motorways. The absence of service stations and rest areas on the motorway network has been criticised.
However, nine of the 12 proposed stations have been postponed indefinitely as a result of cutbacks to Government funding announced in March 2009, although locations at Athlone (M6) Cashel (M8) and Kilcullen (M9) have received approval by An Bord Pleanála.
The NRA said the locations had been identified on the basis of distances of 50km to 60km between service stations which represents 30-40 minutes driving time at typical speeds of 100-120km/h. An NRA spokesperson said signs indicating the non-availability of motorway services will be taken down as future facilities are opened.
He said investors had secured planning permission for the provision of services adjacent to motorways at Courtlough, Co Dublin (M1); Stamullen, Co Meath (M1); Carrowkeel, Co Galway (M6); Monasterevin, Co Kildare (M7); Moneygall, Co Tipperary (M7) and Cashel, Co Tipperary (M8).
The three service areas opening over the next few weeks have been developed by the Superstop consortium which consists of the service station retailer, Applegreen; building contractor, Pierse and Top Oil.
The group are investing €70 million in the three sites as part of a public-private partnership which will provide 300 full and part-time jobs.
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