10 December 2022
By Tom Collins
One of the country’s most eagerly anticipated road projects took a step closer to completion with the official opening of the Macroom Bypass section of the N22 Baile Bhuirne to Macroom new Dual Carriageway by the Mayor of the County of Cork, Cllr Danny Collins and Taoiseach Mícheál Martin
Opening ahead of schedule yesterday, the 8km new bypass road 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 project will be completed by 2024.
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.
The Mayor of the County of Cork, Cllr Danny Collins said, “Today is a fantastic day for the people of Macroom where 13,000 cars and HGVs would travel 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. Now, the urban renewal of Macroom will begin, where motorists travelling between Cork and Kerry will visit the town and properly experience all that Macroom has to offer without worrying about being stuck in traffic. I would like to thank all the construction staff for their hard work over the last two and a half years and for the community events in recent weeks. 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.”
Cork County Council signed contracts with two Irish firms, Jons Civil Engineering Ltd and John Cradock Ltd, in November 2019 for a total budget of €280 million, in what was the largest single investment by the 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 Covid pandemic.
In December 2020, seven precast concrete bridge beams, the longest ever for Ireland and the UK at 49.9 metres in length, made their way to Macroom with the assistance of a garda escort over 4 nights. With only 200mm height to spare traveling through the Jack Lynch Tunnel, one of the biggest challenges was reversing the 155 tonne beams into position with only inches to spare at the existing stone arch “New Bridge” in Macroom. The new section of road consists of two lanes in each direction separated by a steel median barrier. A total of 48 principal structures were built 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.
Officially opening the new Macroom Bypass, Taoiseach, Mícheál Martin, T.D. said “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. I look forward to seeing Macroom and the wider region go from strength to strength in the years ahead and wish all who travel on the road a safe journey.”
Minister of Transport Eamon Ryan TD., said: “The new 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. It will improve safety for all road users and opens up possibilities for reimagining how Macroom can now develop, in line with the Government’s ‘Town Centre First’ policy which is all about ‘place making’ and ensuring that towns are built around people first, not cars. I would like to thank Transport Infrastructure and Cork County Council for their work on this project so far and look forward to the final delivery of this project.”
Peter Walsh Chief Executive Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) said “Delivering a safe network of national roads is one of the primary responsibilities for TII. The opening of the Macroom 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.”
Chief Executive of Cork County Council, Tim Lucey added, “The N22 Macroom Bypass marks a significant step for the Cork Kerry region. Advancing such a major piece of strategic infrastructure to this point is a complex process and this is an extremely important development for the entire region. This critically important scheme will improve road safety, journey times, remove traffic congestion and enhance connectivity between Cork and Kerry, facilitating sustainable development across the county. This section which is opening ahead of schedule and on budget is testament to the hard work of all involved. The contractors had to contend with challenging terrain from rivers and pastures to hilly remote land. 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 2 decades to help us in arriving at this milestone…”