The journey time between Dublin and Belfast will be cut to only two hours with tomorrow’s opening of the first motorway between the cities.
The ribbon will be cut on the 14km-long A1/N1 dual carriageway between Newry and Dundalk by Minister for Foreign Affairs Dermot Ahern and Northern Ireland Regional Development Minister Conor Murphy.
The opening of the route is the result of a high level cross-Border partnership between the National Roads Authority, Louth County Council and the Northern Ireland Roads Service.
The €154m project will link the A1 at Cloghoge in Co Armagh to the N1 at Dundalk.
Mr Ahern said: “As an island, we need to develop good road and communication links. This underpins our economic prosperity.
“This new addition to our motor links stands as a shining example of how an all-island approach can help everyone prosper.”
Mr Murphy said the project will make a “substantial contribution to the social and economic well-being of communities” north and the south of the Border.
NRA chairman Peter Malone said the project demonstrated that successful cross-border partnerships are now a reality.
The Dundalk to Newry scheme completes the first inter-urban route from Dublin to the North.
Mr Malone said other routes from the capital to Galway, Limerick, Cork and Waterford are on target to be completed by 2010.
“High quality roads such as we see opened here today improve people’s quality of life by providing safer and quicker travel times while opening up the regions to potential industrial growth as well as traditional and business tourism,” he said.
Louth County Council chairman Cllr. Jimmy Mulroy said the new road provides the essential modern infrastructure to help Dundalk and Newry become ’twin cities’.
County Manager of Louth County Council Joan Martin said the opening of the road is the culmination of some two decades of work on designing and constructing the entire length of the Dublin-Belfast Corridor through Co Louth.“
Excavations uncovered archaeological finds dating from the 4th millennium BC until around AD 1,000 between Dundalk and Drumad.
The digs found ancient settlements and an enclosure containing over 870 human burials.