M7 (Republic of Ireland)
|Length:||195.6 km (121.5 miles)|
|Meets:||M8, M9, M20, N7, N18, N24, N62, N77|
|Limerick • Nenagh|
|Route outline (key)|
The M7 is the motorway-standard part of the N7 route from Dublin to Limerick. Today, it covers the majority of that route and, since it provides access to the M8 to Cork and the M9 to Waterford, is one of the most important motorways in Ireland.
The motorway starts at Junction 9, the Maudlins Interchange, flowing directly from the N7 dual carriageway from Dublin at this point. From here, it bypasses Naas on Ireland's oldest section of motorway, opened in 1983, but one which was substantially reconstructed in 2007-2008, 25 years after its opening, with a new roadbed and surfacing. This section of road lasts for only one junction until J8. It then passes under the R445 Naas–Newbridge road, one of Ireland's oldest rural dual carriageways, which marks the start of the Newbridge bypass section of the road, opened in 1993.
The M9 diverges at the restricted access freeflow Junction 11, and the Newbridge bypass ends at Junction 12. Of interest on this section are the fixed-message light boards, no longer of any use, which would light up when traffic was heavy through Kildare/Monasterevin recommending alternative routes.upgraded to D3M and a new interchange is being constructed at Osberstown between Junctions 9 and 10 which will be designated Junction 9a.
After passing Newbridge, the motorway runs along the path of the early 1980s "Curragh Dual Carriageway", which was upgraded to motorway status during construction of the Kildare bypass. This is the only section of the M7 to directly follows the line of the former N7. This section of road was planned in the early 1970s but because it ran across what was then part of the nearby army base, completion was delayed for many years.
The road then becomes the Kildare bypass (2003), which ends at Junction 14. Construction of this section was very controversial owing to its crossing, on an embankment, of Pollardstown Fen, an area claimed to include important/rare animal habitats.
The M7 becomes the 2004 Monasterevin bypass at this point. This section of road which, had it only bypassed Monasterevin, would have left a relatively large countryside gap in the motorway, continues all the way to the start of the 1997 Port Laoise bypass. As of 2009, the NRA road construction signs for this section are still extant and proclaim it to be the "Heath-Mayfield motorway", these being the townlands at the start of the Port Laoise bypass and the end of the Kildare bypass respectively.
The Port Laoise bypass itself starts at a set of single ghost slips beyond Junction 16, through which ir passes shortly afterwards. When the Monasterevin bypass joined up, the original layout of Junction 16 as two, separate restricted-access junctions was changed to a more traditional diamond format.
After Junction 18, the Port Laoise–Castletown public-private partnership section of the M7 begins, with a toll plaza followed after a stretch by Junction 19 where the M8 to Cork diverges. Junction 20 is as yet unbuilt. After Junction 21 the motorway again becomes untolled and bypasses Moneygall and Toomevara with tight LILO juntions for each town at Junctions 23 and 24.
Junction 25 sees the start of the Nenagh bypass, a road originally built as a standard single carriageway and later widened to motorway (albeit with discontinuous hard shoulder through some structures) in 2009. This continues to just before the village of Birdhill at Junction 27.
The road between Junctions 27 and 28 is notable for the delay in its opening. It was scheduled to open with the road from Junction 25 but, suffering from severe subsidence at Anaholty Bog, a section which has become known as the "Bog of Doom", it was delayed for five months after the opening of the rest of the road.
From Junction 28, the M7 consists of a reclassified part of the Limerick Southern Ring Road constructed in the mid-2000s. This joins the M20 at a grade-separated junction, formerly a flat roundabout before both roads were classified as motorways. The N7 continues over the junction to become the N18 on its approach to the Limerick Tunnel.
- The Naas bypass was the first motorway to open in the Republic of Ireland, in 1983
- The Newbridge bypass opened in mid 1994 (see history article)
- The Port Laoise bypass opened in May 1997
- The Nenagh bypass opened in 2000 as a single carriageway
- The Kildare bypass opened in December 2003
- Phase 1 of the Limerick Southern Ring Road opened in May 2004
- The Monasterevin bypass opened in November 2004
- The Nenagh Bypass opened as a dual carriageway in stages during 2009/10
- Nenagh - Birdhill opened at 16.00 on 1 April 2010.
- Port Laoise - Borris in Ossory opened at 16.00 on 24 May 2010
- Borris in Ossory - Nenagh opened on 22 September 2010
- Birdhill - Limerick opened on 28 September 2010
Irish Statute Book
- Roads Act 2007 (Declaration of Motorways) Order 2008 - This instrument converts the following sections of the N7 to motorway: Castletown to Nenagh, Nenagh to Limerick
- Roads Act 2007 (Declaration of Motorways) Order 2009 - This instrument converts the following sections of the N7 to motorway: Limerick Southern Ring Road Phase 1, Proposed N7/N20 Rossbrien Interchange (part of the Limerick Southern Ring Road Phase 2 road scheme)