The Carlow Bypass officially opened by Transport Minister Noel Dempsey on Thursday last, marks the completion of the first section of the N9 Dublin to Waterford road artery.

Measuring 18.5 kilometres, the €216.5 million road took 22 months to complete and will remove over 9,000 vehicles from Carlow Town daily. It has also shaved a half-hour off driving time between Waterford and Dublin, much to the satisfaction of motorists from this neck of the woods.

“This new route around the town for all those whose business is elsewhere along the N9 will deliver journey time-savings of up to 30 minutes in peak time traffic,” according to Minister Dempsey.

“By delivering this bypass in time and on budget Government is achieving three important targets – removing through traffic, improving access to and from towns and villages in the area and, most importantly, improving road safety.”

National Roads Authority Chairman Peter Malone welcomed the opening of the bypass, describing it as indicative of the standard of national road that will serve the south east into the future.”

He added: “The benefits of the Carlow Bypass locally will be immediate reducing travel times and congestion.

“On a national scale the new bypass will substantially improve access to the south east region and will facilitate the safe and efficient movement of people and goods between the gateway city of Waterford and the hub towns of Kilkenny and Wexford identified in the National Spatial Strategy.”

Mr Malone said the new Waterford-Dublin road was “on target for completion to motorway standard by 2010”.

In his view, the new road “will enrich the business and social texture of the south and east region bringing communities closer and enhancing tourist potential while contributing to our economic competitiveness”.

* This reporter was on the new bypass on Saturday afternoon and gives it two thumbs up! It is undoubtedly a significant time saver when it comes to reaching the capital from this region and provides an excellent indicator that the frustrating drive to Dublin ought to be a thing of the past for most motorists come 2010.