Taoiseach says new motorway will open up Wexford
Opening of new M11 Bypass of Enniscorthy, Ferns and Camolin
An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar TD, has said the opening of the new M11 motorway between Enniscorthy and Gorey will help transform Wexford and that it's proof of the Government's public capital programme being delivered.
Speaking prior to officially opening the new motorway on Thursday Mr Varadkar said that in addition to cutting journey times and improving road safety the new road will enhance regional connectivity for County Wexford.
Expressing delight at being in Wexford again the Taoiseach described the new motorway as 'a massive project'.
Costing €400m to complete he said it was a major investment in the county that was delivered 'on time and on budget'.
He acknowledged the presence of the Spanish ambassador and said it was indicative of the many Spanish links with the project.
'I signed the contracts for this project in April, 2014, and Deputy Brendan Howlin signed it with me,' Mr Varadkar told the large crowd of invited guests at the opening ceremony.
It's expected the new motorway will take around 6,000 vehicles per day off the streets of Enniscorthy and thereby hugely reduce the traffic congestion which has plagued the town for years.
However, Mr Varadkar said some critics were orchestrating 'a pervasive anti-roads agenda' and creating what he said were 'false choices' between roads and public transport.
'We need to have both,' he said.
'We need to have better rail, bus and cycling opportunities,' he added, before going on to comment: 'We will invest twice as much in new public transport projects, as in new roads over the next decade.'
'That's the right balance, I think,' he added.
In a subtle reference to Wexford's hurling heroes Mr Varadkar pointed out that 'this new road will make it that bit quicker for people to get to Croke Park'.
It was a comment that received a noticeably favourable response from those present.
Mr Varadkar also said public private partnerships (PPP), through which the new motorway was constructed, have their place.
He said there are positives and negatives to PPP schemes but he said they do deliver value-for-money objectives.
The new motorway will reduce the commute between Wexford and Dublin by 30 minutes during peak times and by around 15 minutes during off-peak times and Mr Varadkar said that with the recession hitting 'this part of the country hard' the quicker access to the capital will benefit the county which, he said, has already shown signs of recovery.
He said the new bypass in New Ross and the plan for a technological university of the south east will rejuvenate County Wexford.
'This road is good for Wexford, for the south east, good for Ireland, and is part of a bigger European project,' he said.
The Chief Executive Officer of BAM Iridium, Theo Cullinane, also addressed the opening and said his company was delighted to deliver the project on time and on budget.
He said the origins of BAM and its parent company in the Netherlands could be traced back to the building of Wexford bridge in 1959.
He said the project was able to contribute to local employment in the region and he encouraged the Government to fully embrace PPP projects going forward.
He also said that BAM was caught in the crossfire of controversy over the national broadband plan and the National Children's Hospital,
With regard to the PPP model that created the motorway he said: 'That model has shown to be the best in delivering a safe, quality project that's value for money.'