The long-awaited Macroom bypass was opened to traffic, on budget and ahead of schedule on Friday, alleviating one of the worst traffic bottlenecks in Munster.
The first 8km section of the €280m, 22km N22 Ballyvourney-Macroom road runs from Coolcour, on the Cork city side of Macroom to Carrigaphooca on the western side and bypasses Macroom to the north. It will take an estimated 13,000 vehicles daily, reducing traffic in the town centre by 40% and shaving around 20 minutes off the Cork to Killarney journey time.
It consists of two lanes in each direction separated by a steel median barrier and includes a roundabout at the tie-in on the eastern side of Macroom, a grade-separated junction at Gurteenroe on the western end of Macroom and a temporary tie-in at Carrigaphooca, with the temporary roundabout allowing traffic to merge onto the existing N22.
Work on the other sections is continuing — the bypass of Baile Bhuirne and Baile Mhic Íre, running from Slievereagh to Coolnacaheragh, and the middle section from Coolnacaheragh to Carrigaphooca. Engineers hope to have the entire scheme complete by 2024.
The bypass was officially opened by the Taoiseach Micheál Martin and by the Mayor of the County of Cork Cllr Danny Collins this morning. Mr Collins hailed it as a fantastic day for the people of Macroom.
“Thanks to the bypass, the volume of traffic will decrease by 40%, leading to improved quality of life for residents, businesses and visitors to Macroom,” he said.
— Eoin English (@EoinBearla) December 9, 2022
“Now, the urban renewal of Macroom will begin, where motorists travelling between Cork and Kerry will visit the town and properly experience all that Macroom has to offer without worrying about being stuck in traffic.
“I would like to thank all the construction staff for their hard work over the last two-and-a-half years and for the community events in recent weeks.”
The Taoiseach said the bypass will greatly improve safety and accessibility for locals and those travelling between Cork and Kerry.
— Eoin English (@EoinBearla) December 9, 2022
“It will encourage economic growth, supporting further investment and employment to the region. I look forward to seeing Macroom and the wider region go from strength to strength in the years ahead and wish all who travel on the road a safe journey,” he said.
Transport Minister Eamon Ryan said the bypass will breathe new life into Macroom.
“It will improve safety for all road users and opens up possibilities for re-imagining how Macroom can now develop, in line with the Government’s ‘Town Centre First’ policy which is all about ‘place making’ and ensuring that towns are built around people first, not cars,” he said.
Cork County Council Chief Executive Tim Lucey said the delivery of this first piece of the N22 upgrade marks a significant step for the Cork-Kerry region.
“Advancing such a major piece of strategic infrastructure to this point is a complex process and this is an extremely important development for the entire region,” he said.
“This critically important scheme will improve road safety, journey times, remove traffic congestion and enhance connectivity between Cork and Kerry, facilitating sustainable development across the county.”
After almost two decades of campaigning and lobbying, planning was granted for the N22 project in 2011, but there was shock and disappointment in 2016 when the scheme was shelved due to a lack of funding.
But it got the green light in 2019 and the contract, between Cork County Council and two Irish firms, Jons Civil Engineering Ltd and John Cradock Ltd, was signed in November that year for a total budget of €280m in what was the largest single investment by government in the region at the time.
Work started in January 2020 with up to 260 construction staff employed on-site at the peak of the project and continuing throughout the Covid pandemic.
In December 2020, seven 49.9-metre long 155-tonne precast concrete bridge beams, the longest ever for Ireland and the UK, were transported to Macroom with the help of a garda escort over four nights.
The beams had just 200mm clearance as they passed through the Jack Lynch Tunnel.
Ahead of the official opening of the bypass today, thousands took part in community events including the Muskerry AC fun run and walk in association with Macroom Senior Citizens and Macroom Fairy Garden. Macroom Lions Club also organised a ‘ball drop’ in aid of the Irish Community Air Ambulance.
daily vehicle movements
saving on journey times
principal structures were built
square metres of pavement laid