The eagerly anticipated Macroom Bypass has been officially opened to traffic this morning, an 8km stretch of road which will “breathe new life into Macroom”.
The Macroom Bypass section of the new N22 dual carriageway between Baile Bhuirne and Macroom was officially opened on Friday morning by the Mayor of the County of Cork, Cllr Danny Collins and Taoiseach Mícheál Martin.
The Taoiseach said the new bypass will see Macroom and the wider region go from “strength to strength”.
“Delivered under Project Ireland 2040, the Macroom Bypass will greatly improve safety and accessibility for local communities who will use this road regularly as well as for those travelling between Cork and Kerry. It will encourage economic growth, supporting further investment and employment to the region,” he said.
Minister of Transport Eamon Ryan added that the bypass “breathes new life into Macroom, ensuring that the town can begin to flourish as a place people want to live and visit without the stress of congestion”.
Opened ahead of schedule, the bypass 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.
The Mayor of the County of Cork, Cllr Danny Collins said it is a “fantastic day for the people of Macroom”, where until now 13,000 cars and HGVs travelled through daily.
“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.
Ahead of the official opening, 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.
Mayor Collins said it was “wonderful to see so many people walking on the new road, taking in the sights and impressive engineering of the road all while raising money for local charities”, and paid tribute to community events in recent weeks, as well as construction staff for their hard work over the last two and a half years.
Cork County Council signed contracts with two Irish firms, Jons Civil Engineering Ltd and John Cradock Ltd, in November 2019 for the project, for a total budget of €280 million - 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 pandemic.
The bypass is constructed using seven massive precast concrete beams, almost 50 metres in length, the longest ever for Ireland and the UK.
The beams made their way to Macroom via garda escort over four nights in December 2020, narrowly making it through the Jack Lynch Tunnel with only 200mm height to spare.
The 155 tonne beams had to be delicately reversed into position, again with only inches of space to spare at the existing stone arch “New Bridge” in Macroom.
The new road, with two lanes in each direction separated by a steel barrier, is made up of 48 different principal structures, including three river bridges, three overbridges and four under bridges, walls, culverts and environmental barriers for noise reduction and 132,000 square metres of pavement.
Peter Walsh, Chief Executive Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) said that the opening of the bypass “delivers an immediate safety improvement for both road user and pedestrian, it will also enhance the quality of life for people living, working, and visiting the town of Macroom”.
“We look forward to the entire N22 Baile Bhuirne to Macroom project completion in 2024,” he said.
Chief Executive of Cork County Council, Tim Lucey said that the N22 Macroom Bypass marks a significant step for the Cork Kerry region.
“This section which is opening ahead of schedule and on budget is testament to the hard work of all involved,” he said.
“This project has been a collaborative effort from the very start and I would like to thank the people of Macroom, Transport Infrastructure Ireland, joint contractors Jons Civil Engineering and Jon Craddock JV Ltd , our many design consultants, most recently lead by Mott McDonald Ireland ltd, landowners and businesses and the hundreds of other companies and individuals involved over the last two decades to help us in arriving at this milestone today,” he added.