M way service stations just three years late
Three new motorway service areas will open by October -- more than three years after they were proposed.
A source at the National Roads Authority (NRA) confirmed to the Herald that the services will be on the M4 at Enfield, the M1 at Dromiskin, Co Louth, and on the M1 between Balbriggan and Lusk.
These rest areas will be the first three provided by the Road Act 2007 which called for the creation of 12 services on Irish motorways.
"Contracts have been awarded and construction is under way on the M1 South, M1 North and M4 Enfield service areas," an NRA spokesman told the Herald.
"Work on all three facilities will be completed in 2010." There are a further seven areas planned including service stations at Abbeyleix and outside Galway city but no concrete plans have been confirmed for the M7 Dublin to Cork road and the M9 Dublin to Waterford route.
These plans will be subject to funding which has been severely affected by the economic downturn.
Department of Transport funding for the construction, maintenance and improvement of national roads has been cut by €325m this year.
In 2008, Transport Minister Noel Dempsey signed-off the Road Act 2007 to allow service areas along national routes.
It was intended, at first, to build 12 service stations on five motorways by 2011.
The NRA has said that it will now put up signs to fuel stations just off motorways.
"Given the delays that will occur in providing some of the service areas (brown) information signs are being erected on rural sections of motorways and dual carriageways alerting road users to the presence of off-line fuel stations located within a kilometre or so of interchanges," the NRA said.
The AA has previously criticised the lack of service stations on Irish motorways on safety grounds as there are no areas for tired motorist to park.
"You can drive from Newry to Cork on a continuous motorway network and the only place you will find service areas is at Newlands Cross in Dublin," said Conor Faughnan spokesman for the AA.