M7 motorway (Ireland)
|Part of E20|
|Length||166.5 km (103.5 mi)|
Naas bypass, J9-J10: 1983
Newbridge Bypass, J11-J12: 1993
Portlaoise bypass: 1997
Kildare bypass: 2003
Monasterevin bypass: 2004
Limerick Southern Ring Road - Phase I: 2004
Portlaoise to Borris-in-Ossory, Nenagh to Limerick, Castletown to Nenagh: 2010
|Northeast end||(N7 from Dublin) Naas|
|Southwest end||Rossbrien Interchange - Limerick|
|Naas, Newbridge (M9 to Waterford), Monasterevin, Portlaoise (M8 to Cork), Mountrath, Borris-in-Ossory, Roscrea, Moneygall, Toomevara, Nenagh, Limerick (N18 to Ennis & Shannon Airport, M20 to Cork/Kerry)|
The M7 motorway (Irish: Mótarbhealach M7) is a motorway in Ireland. The motorway runs continuously from the outskirts of Naas in County Kildare to Rossbrien on the outskirts of Limerick City. The M7 forms part of the Dublin to Limerick N7 national primary road. The section of the motorway bypassing Naas, an 8 km stretch, was the first section of motorway to open in the Republic of Ireland, in 1983. Following substantial works to extend the M7 to Limerick; by the end of 2010, the motorway replaced all of the old single-carriageway N7 route which is now designated as R445. At 166.5 km, the M7 is the longest motorway in Ireland.
Naas to Limerick
The N7 leads directly into the M7 motorway at the Maudlin's Interchange near Naas (junction 9 on the N7-M7 corridor), and proceeds southwestwards, bypassing Naas, Newbridge, Kildare, Monasterevin, Ballybrittas, Portlaoise, Mountrath, Borris-in-Ossory, Roscrea, Moneygall, Toomevara, Nenagh and Annacotty. As of December 2010, the M7 is approximately 186 km in length and ends at the Rosbrien interchange (junction 30) outside Limerick. Here, the road connects to the Limerick Southern Ring Road - Phase 2 and continues as the N18. At junction 30 there is also a slip-road to the M20 Limerick - Cork/Kerry road. Along this section of the M7 there is a fly-over for the N24 Limerick to Waterford road at junction 29. Southwest of Portlaoise it forms an interchange with the M8 Dublin-Cork motorway at junction 19 and at junction 11 there is an interchange with the M9 Dublin - Waterford motorway. There are plans to widen the Naas bypass to 3 lanes in each direction from Junction 9 to Junction 11. Also included in the plans is to construct a new interchange between Junctions 9 and 10 at Osberstown to connect with Sallins and Millennium Park in Naas.
The M7 was constructed in stages between 1983 and 2010 to replace the old national route which ran (in order from east to west) through the villages and towns of Naas (1983), Newbridge (1993), Kildare (December 2003), Monasterevin (November 2004), Portlaoise (29 May 1997), Mountrath and Borris-in-Ossory (both 28 May 2010), Roscrea, Moneygall and Toomevara (all 22 December 2010), Nenagh (about 1996) and Birdhill (28 September 2010) and the city of Limerick (May 2004). Today, junctions provide access to all of these places. The old route has been re-classified as a regional road, the R445. A restricted-access junction (junction 11) connects the M7 to the M9 motorway to Waterford, also allowing access from the M9 to eastbound carriageway of the M7.
Until summer 2006, junction numbers started at seven, although only the first five junctions were numbered. This junction numbering scheme was devised when it was believed that a motorway would be built from Naas to the yet-to-be-constructed junction 8 on the M50. While a motorway reservation still exists, it is now unlikely to be built, having been superseded by the widening of the N7 between Newlands Cross and Naas to three lanes and the grade separation of this section. The junction numbers were renumbered to fit into this scheme in July–August 2006.
The construction of the Nenagh to Limerick section was slow and difficult. Work on this section began on 7 December 2006 and was initially due to be completed in May 2009. The total length of the scheme is 38 km (24 mi), of which 10 km (6.2 mi) was the upgrading of the single carriageway Nenagh bypass. The road opened in three stages. The Nenagh bypass re-opened to motorway standard on 17 December 2009 and the Nenagh to Birdhill section opened on 1 April 2010. Problems were encountered while constructing the road over two sections of deep bog at Annaholty and Drominboy near Birdhill and this delayed the opening of the Birdhill to Limerick section by over a year. Parts of the road collapsed over the two bogs and the sections were rebuilt and opened on 28 September 2010. This scheme was originally to be built as a high-quality dual carriageway (HQDC), but it was re-designated motorway by Statutory Instrument on 17 July 2008.
In June 2007, construction commenced on a 28 km (17 mi) section of the M7 motorway between Portlaoise and Castletown, which opened on 28 May 2010 and is subject to a toll north of the M7-M8 interchange. This M7 scheme runs between junctions 18 and 21 on the N7-M7 corridor and bypasses Borris-in-Ossory and Mountrath, this section includes a tie-in to the new 143 km M8.
In March 2008, construction commenced on a 36 km section (22 miles) of the M7 route between Castletown, County Laois and Nenagh, tying into the Portlaoise-Castletown scheme mentioned above at the Borris-in-Ossory junction. It runs between junctions 21 and 24 on the N7-M7 corridor. This scheme was originally planned to proceed as a High Quality Dual Carriageway (HQDC), which would have seen it built to many of the same engineering standard as a motorway, with a design speed of 120 km/h, however a Statutory Instrument was passed on 17 July 2008, re-designating this and many other new HQDC schemes as motorway. Consequently, when this scheme was complete, it opened with full motorway regulations on 22 December 2010.
In May 2004 work was completed on phase 1 of the Limerick Southern Ring Road which consists of approximately 10 km (6.2 mi) of dual carriageway, and joins the M20 road to Cork and the N21 road to Kerry. Two grade separated junctions allow access to Limerick city at Annacotty via the R445 and at Ballysimon via the N24. The N20 Carew park link road was closed permanently to inbound traffic from both the M7 and M20 in June 2010 to facilitate phase 2 of the Limerick southern ring road project. The dual carriageway was redesignated as M7 in 2009. Phase 2 of the Limerick Southern Ring Road opened as part of the N18 and was completed in July 2010.
Motorway service areas
Transport Infrastructure Ireland is constructing on-line motorway service areas at approximately 60-kilometre intervals along each of Ireland's interurban routes. Under this plan, two such areas have been built on the M7: one is located near Mountrath (junction 14), while the other (Barack Obama Plaza) is sited between Nenagh and Roscrea, on the outskirts of Moneygall, near junction 23
Junction 14 Mayfield, an independently owned service area, was opened in June 2011. Accessed from either direction, traffic must use the existing junction 14 slip roads with eastbound traffic then crossing to the south side of the motorway by bridge. Facilities include a Spar store and deli, an Insomnia Coffee and a Supermac's.
Barack Obama Plaza, an independently owned service area, opened at Junction 23 on the outskirts of Moneygall. It includes a Spar store, a Supermac's, Papa John's Pizza, Mac's Place (a deli) and Bewley's coffee. Accessed using the existing junction 23 slip roads with eastbound traffic then passing under the motorway bridge.
Petrogas opened a service area in October 2014 at junction 27, the Birdhill exit. The Applegreen branded service area contains a Costa Coffee and a Burger King franchise. Traffic uses the existing slip roads with westbound traffic then passing over the motorway bridge. 
Roadside Art on M7
Roadside art is funded under the Percentage For Arts Scheme where 1% of the scheme budget is allocated to roadside art with a cap of €63,000. The local authorities decide on a theme and are responsible for commissioning the work, usually by open competition. There are several examples along the M7
- Perpetual Motion, a large sphere with road markings situated where the N7 becomes the M7 at Naas. Created by Remco de Fouw in collaboration with Rachel Joynt in 1995. RTE radio show about Perpetual Motion
- Race of The Black Pig on the Kildare bypass. Artist Dan George created (2003) this 0.4 km long installation in three segments, East, Central and West groups.
- The Hitchhiker on the Monasterevin bypass. Artist Willie Malone created this phosphor bronze installation (2005) to represent the wheel. Jointly commissioned by Kildare and Laois County Councils. In March 2011 The Hitchhiker was removed from the side of the motorway by persons unknown.
- Doon a two-part earthwork with stainless steel superstructure located on the Portlaoise bypass. Viewed from the air the implication is that the earthwork ring stretches across the motorway. Artists Robert McColgan and Irene Benner.
- The Dandelion is on the north side of the M7 at Rathnaveogue between the Roscrea and Moneygall junctions. In two pieces a three dimensional figure of a girl blowing at a dandelion carved in bas relief from a large slab of stone. The Artist was Michael Disley.
- Architects of the Land, limestone figures of a Man and a Bull, one each side of M7 Nenagh Bypass. Artist Colin Grehan created the sculpture in 2001 from two massive limestone blocks. The mans legs merge into plough shears, his pose designed to indicate an imaginary link to the bull across the carriageways.
Motorway redesignations affecting the M7
The M7 was to end at junction 28, where it would have blended into the N7 southern ring road scheme. On 10 July 2009, ministerial approval was given for 10 km of the Limerick southern-ring and the N7/N20 interchange (and all relevant slip-roads) to be redesignated to motorway status.)
If various other schemes on the N7 are to be redesignated motorway (e.g., the section from Dublin to Naas), the route could reach up to 220 km in length.
In 2017 work started on the widening of 13.5 km of the existing two-lane dual carriageway to D3M standard between the Maudlin's interchange (J9) and the M7/M9 junction (J11). The widening project will include relocating the existing on/off ramps at Junction 10 to a new junction at the main Naas to Newbridge dual carriageway (R445). A new interchange at Osberstown between junctions 9 and 10 which will be built and designated Junction 9a. The project is due to be completed by 2020.
- Ordnance Survey Map of Ireland, 2010, Motoring Schemata Section
- "Welcome to N7 Nenagh to Limerick". N7nenaghtolimerick.com. Archived from the original on 11 April 2010. Retrieved 2010-06-01.
- RTÉ News: Opening of Nenagh-Limerick Motorway Link
- "NRA p.25" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 18 March 2009. Retrieved 14 September 2009.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 15 June 2011. Retrieved 2011-06-18.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
- Nenagh Guardian, 25 Oct 2014, page 28
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 4 June 2009. Retrieved 2010-03-06.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
- "Kildare County Council Arts Service - Race of the black pig". Kildare.ie. Retrieved 2010-06-01.
- "Kildare County Council Arts Service - The hitch hiker". Kildare.ie. Retrieved 2010-06-01.
- Collins, Liam (20 March 2011). "One-ton hitchhiker statue goes walkabout". Irish Independent.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 18 May 2015. Retrieved 2015-05-12.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
- "Nenagh Arts Centre's Blog". Nenaghartscentre.wordpress.com. Retrieved 2010-06-01.
- "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 19 March 2009. Retrieved 2008-09-30.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
- "300km of roads to be assigned as motorways - The Irish Times - Tue, Jul 14, 2009". The Irish Times. 2009-07-14. Retrieved 2010-06-01.
- "M7 motorway set to be widened to three lanes at Naas - The Irish Times - Thu, Sep 21, 2017". The Irish Times. 2017-09-21. Retrieved 2019-01-05.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to M7 motorway (Republic of Ireland).|
- Roads Act 1993 (Classification of National Roads) Order 2006 – Department of Transport
- M7 Portlaoise to Castletown scheme website