The director of services with Kildare County Council, Niall Morrissey, has defended the decision to keep the speed limit on the newly upgraded M7 at 60km/h for today.
All three lanes of the 13km stretch of motorway opened this morning and the speed limit will be changed to 80km/h tomorrow, he told RTÉ radio’s Today with Miriam O’Callaghan show.
Mr Morrissey said that a reduced speed limit of 80 km/h will be in place until mid-September, when the limit will be extended to 120 km/h.
Works have been taking place on the stretch of motorway from Junction 8 Johnstown to the merge between the M9 and the M7 since January of last year.
The M7 widening scheme is part of a major three-element project which also includes the M7 Osberstown Interchange and the R407 Sallins Bypass — which is due to be completed by the end of this year.
Mr Morrissey said that people travelling the route this bank holiday weekend will notice a big improvement, especially after Junction 11.
The works were complicated because 50 kilometres of telecommunication cables were involved along with infrastructure for other services such as gas and water.
The speed restrictions were put in place while the work was being completed because it was an active job site, he explained.
Mr Morrissey told of how he travelled the route at one stage in a garda squad car which was being driven at the speed limit, but they were passed by numerous cars far exceeding the limit. “They didn’t take into consideration the speed limit or the safety of staff.”
When asked if a fine would be imposed on the contractor if the works are not completed on schedule, he said it would.
Mr Morrissey urged people to heed the speed limit. “The overall message is about getting there safely, not quickly.”