Map here: http://www.nra.ie/RoadSchemeActivity...p,15444,en.pdf
I note that no media forum is covering in detail the development of the NRA's Interurban motorway programme. Much media reportage seems to revolve solely around periodic road openings, rather than on how construction works are progressing.
Still, there is at least one story worthy of some attention. It concerns two closely-related schemes of the new M8 motorway: 1) the recently opened 40km M8 Cashel to Cullahill project; and 2) the M7/M8 Cullahill-Casteltown-Portlaoise PPP scheme.
The M8 Cashel to Cullahill scheme opened on 8 December 2008, and was built wholly with public money. It extends northwards from Cashel to just south of Cullahill in Co Laois, where a temporary roundabout marks the end of the motorway. Note that when the M7/M8 PPP scheme opens (due in late 2010), this temporary roundabout will be removed.
Because of this, the M7/M8 PPP tolled scheme will effectively be extended south to Urlingford (exit 4), absorbing several kilometres of the publically-built Cashel to Cullahill road between Urlingford and Cullahill.
This is exactly the same situation that occurred at Watergrasshill in County Cork in October 2006, which RTE reported on at the time: RTÉ News: Thousands avoiding Fermoy by-pass
If you examine the M8 motorway signage erected last December at junction 4 (Urlingford), you will be able to discern the word 'toll' covered over with patching that, presumably, will be removed in 2010 when the M7/M8 scheme opens. This is clear evidence that one will not be able to drive north of Urlingford on the M8 toll-free in 2010, even though this is a publically funded piece of infrastructure.
(For a lay out of the junctions, see: M8 motorway (Ireland) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia )
There is no good reason why drivers should have to pay a private company money to drive on a public road, which is what will hapen. I am only familiar with the M8; it is possible that similar things will happen on the M6 and M7.
I would also suggest a far closer monitoring of the NRA's interurban motorway construction programme by our media. As you may know, information from official channels (the NRA and the Dept of Transport) on the progress of various M7 and M6 schemes is very scant (there are major financial problems with the Nenagh to Limerick M7 scheme, for example, but these have scarcely been highlighted by anyone save a few local newspapers). The Castletown to Nenagh M7 scheme is similarly proceeding without any information being put into the public domain RE progress, etc. The M7/M8 PPP scheme itself is advancing at an incredibly slow rate of construction in comparison with the M8 Mitchelstown to Fermoy scheme for example; again, rumours abound that the company building the scheme, CRG, is facing financial problems and that it has let go a number of workers - which, if true, may well delay the project. The point is, we just don't know. Very few motorway schemes have websites where members of the public can follow construction progress. In fact, I know of only two: the N25 Waterford Bypass site, and the Limerick Tunnel site, both of which are very informative. What is clear is that the state is spending billions on much-needed motorway construction and the media is not casting a critical eye over any of it, bar perhaps the M3.
EDIT: Just to clarify, I am not against the toll. I would happily pay a toll to drive on a safe, high quality route between Cork and Dublin. I object to several kilometres of motorway built by the state being given over to a private company which did not pay for its construction.