The roundabout interchange on the Clane Road (Photo: SIAC Construction / COLAS
The opening of the Sallins bypass and a new interchange on the M7 may be delayed again until the start of summer.
The project, which was expected to cost €110m, has already delivered a three lane motorway along the route of the old Naas bypass, which opened in August 2019 with a temporary speed limit of 80 km/h.
At an estimated €55m, this was the most expensive of the three projects, which proceeded at the same time to ensure cost savings. There is local speculation the total cost could reach €150m.
It was originally anticipated that all of the new infrastructure would be open by for use by early 2020.
However, sources close to the project believe that all of the work will not be completed until May and a firm completion date is not yet available, according to the local authority.
For a time in 2019, there were hopes that the work would end ahead of schedule but a number of factors conspired against this, including the difficulty of working adjacent to a busy road with 78,000 vehicles passing daily. According to KCC, substantial completion of the scheme was achieved in November 2020.
It added that the contractor SIAC/Colas has advised that the interchange and bypass are due for completion by the end of this March.
“There were delays at the beginning of the construction stage and this along with other challenging circumstances including the necessary shutdowns due to Covid-19 impacted.”
KCC also pointed out that the contract does allow for sectional completion.
The speculated costs of €110m and a cost overrun, which would bring the bill to €150m, “are inaccurate and have not been confirmed by KCC”.
KCC also pointed out that building work is ongoing “therefore the outturn costs are not finalised yet and when the contract is complete further details will be available”.
Pedestrian and cyclist linkages are being provided to the Grand Canal from the new Sallins link Road; also pedestrian and cyclist facilities will be provided from the existing outer orbit road (Millennium Road) to the existing Canal Road beside the old Leinster Mills.
It is believed that recent criticism on social media of changes about some of the recent work on a section of Junction 9a — relating to some road widening - is unfounded.
It is also understood that major projects of this nature are often “tweaked” to take account of traffic generated, not just for the needs of the existing population, but also of likely future needs based on population growth projections. It is believed that
Kildare Co Council acted to prevent traffic build-up on the motorway itself and any changes made were made to adjust to emerging local needs. A source familiar with large scale projects like this said KCC is to be applauded for taking emerging factors (like developments at Millennium Park) into account when overseeing the plan.
Naas Mayor Fintan Brett said “the delays have been frustrating.” And equally frustrating is the absence of definitive completion date.
Cllr Brett added: “issues like the virus and lockdowns have not been any help”.