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Toll plaza operators should make the All-Ireland hurling final a ‘toll free’ day – Lombard

9th July 2024 - Senator Tim Lombard

One of the country’s busiest motorway toll plazas should be made free for the All-Ireland hurling final to prevent major traffic delays, a Fine Gael Senator has said.

Cork Senator Tim Lombard said the private operator of the busy M7/M8 toll in Laois should intervene and show goodwill to ensure all Cork and Clare fans don’t miss the high-profile match because of traffic delays caused by the toll plaza.

“‘Last Sunday’s All-Ireland semi-final between Cork and Limerick was a classic in front of a full house in Croke Park. The only downside to a wonderful day was the traffic congestion and delays due to the tolls on the motorway.

“It was chronic at the Laois toll plaza and thousands suffered major delays as a result of the bottleneck. Many turned off the motorway and travelled other routes to try and make the game on time,” Senator Lombard said.

MidLink M7/M8 Ltd were appointed by Celtic Roads Group (Portlaoise) Ltd to manage toll collection at the M7/M8 Toll Plaza in Laois, as part of a 30-year public-private partnership scheme, until 2037 when it reverts to public ownership.

“There were long delays particularly at the toll outside Portlaoise where all the traffic from Limerick and Cork merged.

“We can’t have a repeat of this in two weeks’ time for Cork and Clare fans. Thousands upon thousands will be using the M7 motorway from Munster on Sunday, July 21st for the 3.30pm throw-in at GAA HQ.

“If the toll can’t deal with the volume of traffic, the barriers should be opened to prevent significant delays.

“We need a proper plan put in place by the toll operators to prevent bigger delays.

“Thankfully, there were no reports of collisions last Sunday, given the huge volume of traffic and the congestion on the motorway, but steps must be taken to ensure safe, free flowing traffic for the final.

“The toll could be made free, and all barriers lifted for traffic northbound from 10am until 2:30pm to allow fans to get to Croke Park, and then again from 5:30pm until 10.30pm to allow southbound fans a quicker journey back home.

“Given the All-Ireland hurling final is once again an all-Munster affair with supporters travelling from Cork and Clare, we can expect the same traffic congestion with in excess of 82,000 supporters travelling to Croke Park.

“MidLink need to guarantee Cork and Clare supporters they will not only get to the All-Ireland final on time, but also that they can expect to be back home at a reasonable time after the match, by opening the toll barriers”, concluded Senator Lombard.


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