The necessity of a full motorway link connecting Waterford to Dublin was one of several questions put to Transport Minister Noel Dempsey at the opening of the Knocktopher-Carlow section last Thursday.
While some national reporters present described the new, €1.2 billion infrastructure as a ‘white elephant’ – not a view shared by this newspaper, Minister Dempsey dismissed such protestations.
With the road deemed commercially unviable for a toll due to low traffic numbers, Minister Dempsey said that people would gradually come to realise the importance of the road.
“The same comment was made about the M50 upgrade,” he said in response to the ‘white elephant’ claim.
“Now that it’s completed, the question being asked by all the cynics that said it shouldn’t have been done in the first place, is why wasn’t it done originally?
“These roads are not built for now, not for the next 20 years, they’re built for the next 100. Growth will return to the economy and we have an infrastructure for that growth.”
The complete absence of service facilities on the M9 and the other finished motorways, was also highlighted to the Minister.
“There are facilities off all of these particular roads,” said Minister Dempsey.
“We have a number of rest areas that we’re putting in place. I’ve asked the NRA to have a look at ways and means of doing this that won’t cost the taxpayer.
“I think they can be done on a commercial basis and I’m sure the NRA will come back to me with a report on that.
Minister Dempsey said he requested the report earlier this year and expected it to be delivered shortly.