Taoiseach Leo Varadkar opens N25 New Ross bypass and Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Bridge. Photo: PJ Browne
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar joined Rose Katherine Kennedy Townsend at the official opening ceremony of the N25 New Ross bypass by Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII), Wexford County Council and Kilkenny County Council this Wednesday.
The 15km bypass project includes the 887-metre long structure named the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Bridge, the longest bridge in Ireland, and its two main spans are the longest post-tensioned concrete spans of their type in the world. The bridge crosses the River Barrow between Wexford and Kilkenny, forms a major part of the €230 million investment in the South East region, and was delivered within budget.
The N25 New Ross bypass, combined with the opening of the M11 Gorey to Enniscorthy motorway in July 2019, improves dramatically the overall connectivity and accessibility of Wexford, Kilkenny and the entire South East region.
The opening ceremony of the N25 and Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Bridge PPP Scheme was officiated by Mr. Varadkar and Rose Katherine Kennedy Townsend in the presence of TII chairman Cormac O’Rourke, Wexford County Council cathaoirleach Cllr. Michael Sheehan, and Cllr Peter Cleere Chairman of Kilkenny County Council.
“This new bypass, which includes Ireland’s longest bridge, will transform New Ross, Wexford, Kilkenny and the South East. By reducing congestion and travel times, improving road safety, and opening up economic opportunities, this will make a huge difference for commuters, for families, for businesses and for tourists," Mr. Varadkar said.
“As we face the reality of Brexit, this investment in greater connectivity to Rosslare is an investment in our future economic security. This bypass is part of the Project Ireland 2040 story and it’s also about connections. It’s about strengthening connectivity between different parts of our country, and strengthening our communities. Thanks to the hard-work and sacrifices of the people in the South East, backed by investment and the right policies, we are seeing a remarkable comeback story for this area.”
The New Ross bypass scheme will be open to traffic at 12 noon this Thursday. It will significantly ease chronic traffic congestion in New Ross town, offering time savings of up to 30 minutes. Additionally, it will provide efficiencies on the strategic N25 route from Cork to Rosslare Europort, while also supporting the future growth and sustainability of New Ross town and the South East region. The scheme also links the N25 route with the N30 New Ross to Enniscorthy route.
The delivery of the N25 New Ross bypass is the culmination of over 20 years work by TII (formerly National Roads Authority), Wexford County Council and Kilkenny County Council, as well as technical advisors for the scheme,Mott MacDonald Ireland. Construction works were undertaken by New Ross Joint Venture, consisting of BAM Civil and Dragados. On average, a workforce of 300 people was employed throughout construction and approximately 2.5 million work hours were completed on-site to bring the scheme to fruition.
Speaking at the event, great-grandchild of Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy, Rose Katherine Kennedy Townsend, said: “This bridge is a wonderful tribute to my great grandmother, and a symbol of her enduring love and lesson that it doesn’t matter who you are, where you come from, we are all God's children. When some leaders threaten to drive us apart, we need to honour those who build bridges that bring us together.”
TII chairman Cormac O’Rourke stated: “The N25 New Ross bypass project has delivered one of Ireland’s most iconic structures. This bridge not only spans the River Barrow but also brings the communities of Wexford and Kilkenny closer together”.
John F Kennedy’s ancestors hail from Dunganstown, County Wexford. The Kennedy Homestead is less than one mile from the new bridge. President Kennedy, who was the 35th president of the United States, proudly visited his family town of New Ross in the summer of 1963.
The late president’s sister, former US ambassador Jean Kennedy Smith, suggested the bridge be named after their mother, in memory of the entire extended family.