THE company that will run the new road tunnel under the Shannon near Limerick city denied yesterday that the opening has been delayed to facilitate the presence of government ministers.
It had been hoped that the new €660 million road would be open to traffic yesterday.
However Direct Route, which will take ownership of the tunnel road for 31 years before it returns to the state, said it was now hoped to have the roadway open next Friday.
The road is expected to take up to 18,000 vehicles a day away from Limerick city centre.
It will cut travel times through Limerick by more than 20 minutes and will cost car drivers €1.80.
Before the National Roads Authority can sign off the project to Direct Route, rigorous safety checks and controls have to be in place under new legislation covering tunnel roadways Tom King, general manager of Direct Route, said: “We are not holding up the opening for the presence of government ministers.
“This is the first tunnel project to go through the very strict legislation which is in place. I am very confident that the process will be completed early next week.
“In all likelihood, we are looking at opening Friday of next week.”
To comply with the new legislation, a huge emergency exercise involving over 160 gardaí, ambulance personnel, civil defence and fire fighters was carried out recently.
Fire fighters had to undergo special training in Switzerland on tunnel rescues and they in turn have passed on this training to colleagues.
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