The R169 heading west-southwest from Junction 12 of the M1
The R169 in County Louth runs from the R132 (former route of the N1) at Woodland, on the southern side of Dunleer, to the N2 at a point 2 km north of Collon. 700 m west-southwest of its start point the road passes beneath the M1, with which it has a diamond interchange (Junction 12).
Being of reasonable standard and connecting two national routes, the R169 has always carried its share of national as well as local traffic. As well as serving from time to time as an official diversionary route it provides traffic from north of Dunleer with a shortcut to the N51 Navan road west of Drogheda. It has also been used in the past to bypass traffic congestion on the southern part of the N1, and more recently to avoid tolls on the M1's Boyne Bridge.
No direct route from Dunleer to Collon is shown on the 1777 Taylor and Skinner map of Ireland. However, the line of the present R169 is essentially unchanged from that shown in the first Ordnance Survey map 60 years later, and one of the crossroads on the route is called New Line Cross, suggesting that the road was built as a project in that period.
In more recent years, the volume of traffic on the route has reflected the relative travel speeds possible on the N1 and N2. The original N1 ran through several towns – Drogheda, Balbriggan, and Swords – all to be bypassed in time. The N2, following a near parallel course at this point, was less congested, and the R169 provided a link betwen the two national roads. The R169 saw particularly heavy use in the early 1970s, prior to the building of the second bridge at Drogheda, and from the mid 80s to the completion of the M1 as traffic delays built up on the old N1. The significant volume of traffic, including a high proportion of HGVs, led to the deterioration of the road and to complaints from the local authority that it should be the responsibility of the national government to repair and maintain a road that was being mainly used by national traffic.