Good progress is being made in the implementation of the national roads development programme mandated in the national development plan. Total Exchequer investment over the period 2000 to 2004 will amount to almost €5.3 billion. Since 2000 a total of 37 projects, totalling over 250 km., have been completed. Work is currently under way on a further 17 projects, totalling 150 km., and 16 projects, totalling 150 km., are at tender stage.
The current position on the upgrading of the five major inter-urban routes to motorway or high-quality dual carriageway standard is as follows. The M1 is expected to be fully complete by the end of 2006. Work is under way on major projects on the N7 Monasterevin bypass and Limerick southern ring road phase 1, on the N8 Cashel bypass and on the N4-N6 at Kilcock-Kinnegad. Work is expected to start this year on the Dundalk western bypass and the Dundalk to Newry section of the M1, the Fermoy bypass on the N8, the Waterford city bypass on the N9-N25 and the widening of the N7 on the Naas road. Completion of these projects will eliminate many of the major bottlenecks on these routes.
In addition, it is expected that compulsory purchase orders and environmental impact statements for the remaining projects in planning on these routes will either be approved by or in consideration by An Bord Pleanála by the end of 2004. On the basis of current planning and funding, the National Roads Authority estimates that the full completion of these routes, other than the M1, will extend to 2010, compared to 2006 as mandated in the NDP. In response to a request from me, in the context of the multi-annual programme being prepared in response to the announcement by the Minister for Finance of a multi-annual funding framework for capital investment, the NRA is considering the possibility of bringing forward the completion of the Cork-Dublin and Galway-Dublin routes to 2007.