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The long-awaited Gort to Tuam M17/M18 motorway will be officially opened today (Wednesday) by Transport Minister Shane Ross.

The various agencies involved aim to begin opening the motorway to the public between 3pm and 4pm, although it may take slightly longer if heavy rain persists, as is forecast.

The ‘rolling’ opening to the public will involve Galway County Council, Transport Infrastructure Ireland, Gardaí and the contractors. Traffic will be slowed down on the existing road with cones, and the barriers will be removed to allow traffic through. Barriers on the interchange and the exits will be opened at the same time.

The new 53km motorway will have no tolls, and will intersect with the existing M6 motorway at Rathmorrissey, linking Tuam and Gort.

The project road commences at the northern end of the N18 Crusheen to Gort scheme which opened to traffic in November 2010. The route is of motorway standard from Gort to the junction at Kilmore, just south of Tuam (at the ‘West Wing’), a distance of 53.2km.

The alignment then continues with a dual carriageway, following a route to the west of Tuam town centre, to its end point on the N17 north of Tuam at Mountpotter, a distance of 4.2km.

The opening follows three years of construction by the Direct Route Consortium and more than a decade of planning.