On 1st June, 1999, the Minister for Finance announced three pilot Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) national roads projects for implementation by the Authority. Those projects were:
- the N25 Waterford By-Pass, incorporating a major river crossing;
- the Limerick Southern Ring Road Phase 2, including 10km of dual carriageway and a major crossing of the Shannon estuary, and
- the construction of a second bridge at West-Link on the M50 in Dublin.
The role of PPPs was further emphasised in the The Government's National Development Plan (NDP) 2000-2006, which identified PPPs as being essential in helping to deliver much-needed infrastructure required on the national road network.
The NDP set a target of securing €1.27b private finance for PPP projects on national roads which represented 23% of the planned total road investment programme under the NDP. This reflected the importance attached by Government to securing the injection of private finance in order to accelerate the delivery of the public capital programme designed to remedy Ireland's infrastructural deficit. Without the injection of additional private finance, progress in the roads programme would be substantially delayed and deficiencies, which threaten regional development and economic growth would fail to be addressed.
PPP schemes similar to those procured in Ireland have been and continue to be used successfully throughout the world as a means of providing a high standard of road infrastructure. At the heart of the PPP approach is the concept that better value for money can be achieved through the utilisation of private sector enterprise due to the enhanced scope for innovation and by allocating the risk to the party best able to manage it. And also, importantly, in a national context, the injection of private finance accelerates the delivery of the public capital programme.
In June 2000 the National Roads Authority, in accordance with its NDP mandate to secure private investment for developing national roads, identified schemes for procurement as PPP schemes. All of the PPP schemes were identified to be procured as design/build/finance/operate contracts with a long-term concession period, during which the concessionaire can recoup the large construction and on-going operation costs by the collection of tolls. The M50 Phase 2 Upgrade was subsequently also procured as a PPP scheme but on an availability payment mechanism rather than the toll revenue payment mechanism included in earlier contracts.
Service Area PPP Programme
The Authority has published a Policy Statement outlining it’s policy on the provision of service areas to cater for users of national roads taking account of the extensive improvements made to the road network in recent years and the programme of further work already planned which will see significant additions to the length of the motorway and dual carriageways standard road throughout the country.
The current position regarding the Authority's motorway service areas programme is set out below.
The Authority has obtained An Bord Pleanala approval for the following service are scheme proposals:
- M1 South - Balbriggan/Lusk
- M1 North - Dromiskin, Co. Louth
- M4 Enfield
- M6 Athlone
- M9 Kilcullen
- M11 Gorey
The Authority is procuring service areas through open, competitive, tendering using the Public Private Partnership (PPP) mechanism.
The service areas on the M1 South, M1 North and M4 Enfield opened for business during 2010.