30 year old Naas motorway project is recalled

Former KCC, Niall Meagher, Co. Architect; John Carrick, Co. Engineer, Dick Burke, Design Engineer, and Gerald Ward Co. Manager mark the 30th anniversary of the opening the Naas by-pass in 1983.                                      Photo Tony Keane.
IT was a time when Naas was known (at least to outsiders) for 3 things; it was on the road to Dublin; Lawlor’s Hotel and the traffic. Lots of traffic.

IT was a time when Naas was known (at least to outsiders) for 3 things; it was on the road to Dublin; Lawlor’s Hotel and the traffic. Lots of traffic.

There were so many vehicles coming through Naas that it became the first town in Ireland to be by-passed.

Known throughout Ireland as a notorious bottleneck, an Irish Times columnist referred to Naas a “wretched town.”

Remarkably, Ireland’s first motorway - all 8 kilometres of it - opened on October 5, 1983. Today there are more than 1,200 kilometres of motorway road in Ireland.

Little else has changed. Just as the country relies on European money to fund public services and pay public service pay bills, some 30% of the cost of road was paid for by the EU.

Kildare County Council held a function marking the 30th anniversary which was strong on nostalgia and with just a hint of self congratulation, justified on the basis that the road has stood the test of time, cost much less than it would today, and was designed by the council staff.

Since then, in a much busier world, costs have spiralled and outside consultants carry out much of this work.

The motorway was designed to last for 20 years but an overlay was not needed until 25 years. It was built to accommodate 55,000 vehicles per day but it carries 68,000 vehicles.

As KCC’s Director of Services Michael O’Leary remarked, the by-pass reduced congestion and improved the quality of air in an era when unleaded petrol was unheard of. Ex-KCC staff member and a Department of Transportation official Dominic Mullaney noted the coincidence of three important years for Naas - the Grand Canal branch opening (1783), the completion of the rail link (1883) and the by-pass opening (1983). All three are in close promixity to each other.