High-quality dual carriageway: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A High-quality dual carriageway (HQDC) is a category of road in the Republic of Ireland. It is an all-purpose dual carriageway road type built to motorway standards, but without motorway classification or motorway restrictions. High-quality dual carriageways have full grade-separated access and do not have junctions with minor roads. Such roads are currently being built in the Republic of Ireland, and will form part of the country's national road network when completed.

While HQDCs or roads of similar type exist in a number of countries (a British example being the A55 road in Wales), this article concentrates mainly on such roads in the Republic of Ireland.



HQDCs are specified as having the same capacity as standard motorways: 52,000 vehicles AADT - annual average daily traffic. The road type is all-purpose dual carriageway (D2AP), but with the same specifications as motorway: a carriageway width of 7 metres and a hard shoulder of 2.5 metres width. HQDCs are limited access (grade-separated junctions only) and not intended to have junctions with minor roads. Junctions with major roads are grade-separated and to motorway standards.

All HQDCs in Ireland currently form part of national primary roads, and therefore use the national road speed limit of 100km/h. There are exceptions however, as special speed limits may now be specified for sections of road if the local authority passes a by-law. The N2 Finglas - Ashbourne bypass is a high-quality dual carriageway but uses the special speed limit of 120km/h, even though it is not a motorway; similarly a section of the N1 from the northern end of the M1 (north of Dundalk to the border with Northern Ireland) has a 120km/h speed limit. It is likely that a number of high-quality dual carriageways on other major routes will use the 120km/h speed limit in the future.

Signage on Irish HQDCs is similar to signage used on Irish motorways, and junction numbers may be present (as on motorways, indicated by a white number on a black panel in the corner of signs). However signage on HQDCs uses a green background instead of the blue background used on Irish motorway signage. In the event of an HQDC being a regional road, black text on a white background would be used instead. Also, as on other all-purpose roads, signs should include patches for roads of other classifications (on motorways, all information signage should have a blue background).

As high-quality dual carriageways are not motorways, they do not need to conform to motorway regulations, therefore slow-moving vehicles (e.g tractors, farm vehicles etc.) as well as cyclists are permitted to use these roads. HQDCs have a hard shoulder marked with a broken yellow line (as is standard on Irish roads), rather than the solid yellow line used to mark the hard shoulder of an Irish motorway. Also, L-Drivers (Learner Drivers), who are not permitted to drive on motorways can do so on high-quality dual carriageways, as on the rest of the national road network. HQDCs are a road type, not a classification, and the normal rules and regulations applying to all-purpose roads apply on HQDCs.

Lay-bys (rest stops) are permitted on HQDCs and the N6/M6 Kinnegad - Kilbeggan scheme originally featured lay-bys, which would not be legal at present on roads with full motorway status, prior to its redesignation as a motorway. The M9 Carlow bypass was built with lay-bys as it was originally to be built as an HQDC section of the N9 route. The lay-bys were removed after the road was reclassified as a motorway. Lay-bys on other HQDCs which were reclassified as motorways were restricted to authorised vehicles only and are likely to be used mainly by Garda Síochána (police) patrol vehicles.


High Quality Dual Carriageways with Motorway Speed Limits in the Republic of Ireland

The standard speed limit for cars on Irish motorways is 120 km/h (with a minimum speed limit for any type of vehicle of 50 km/h). The standard speed limit on national roads is 100 km/h. A number of local authorities have passed special speed limit by-laws permitting dual carriageways in their administrative area to carry motorway speed limits of 120 km/h.

Route Section Counties Destinations Officially Introduced
N1 North of Dundalk to Northern Ireland border Louth (Dublin) – Belfast 15 August 2007
N2 Junction 5, M50, to North of Ashbourne Fingal, Meath Dublin – Derry 15 June 2006
N8 Junction 17 to Junction 18 County Cork Dublin - Cork
N22 Bandon Road Roundabout to Ovens County Cork Cork - Killarney
N25 Dunkettle to Carrigtwohill County Cork Cork - Waterford

HQDCs on Major Inter-Urban Routes

N11 HQDC Gorey Bypass, now proposed for re-designation to motorway status.

Many of the Major Inter-Urban Routes between Dublin and other cities in Ireland[1] were originally to be built to motorway standard but without motorway restrictions, and were to be designated as HQDCs. Roads that were to be built as HQDC include the N6/M6 Kinnegad - Athlone scheme (completed in July 2008), the M8 Mitchelstown - Cashel scheme (completed in October 2008) and the M9 Carlow bypass scheme (completed in June 2008). These roads will form part of the major inter-urban routes network. The advantage of an HQDC over a motorway in this regard is that a simpler planning permission process is used, rather than the more complex Motorway Scheme process used to create a motorway. However the problem of using the normal planning process is that in theory planning permission could be granted for a direct access for a home or business onto the HQDC; although such direct accesses are now discouraged under public policy there is no legal impediment. Motorways, by contrast, may only have accesses at junctions and service areas. HQDCs which form part of national road routes use the N (national road) prefix on signage as opposed to the M prefix used where the route or a section of it is motorway.

Most of the HQDC sections (both completed and under construction) on the major inter-urban network of roads in Ireland have recently been redesignated as motorways or have been proposed for redesignation.


In 2007 new legislation was introduced to allow the Government to designate HQDCs as motorways and thus avoid the risk of permission for direct access being granted by local planning authorities.[2] The Roads Act 2007 was passed by the Oireachtas in early 2007 and signed into law to by the President of Ireland on 11 July 2007. The Act introduced powers for the Minister for Transport (on the recommendation of the National Roads Authority) to re-designate high quality dual carriageways as motorways, following a public consultation process. It is possible that in the future a majority of HQDCs will be reclassified as motorways. [3].

A number of the former high-quality dual carriageway schemes will proceed as tolled PPPs (Public Private Partnerships) despite not being originally planned as motorway schemes. Such roads include the M6 Galway - Ballinasloe project. The N25 Waterford City bypass is the only HQDC planned at present to be tolled. Speculation that this road would be redesignated as a motorway has not been yet confirmed since it is not included on the latest list of roads proposed for redesignation to motorway status. Almost all other Irish toll roads are motorways, although the East-Link toll bridge which is a regional road is also tolled.

Motorway Redesignation

This section of the N8 5 km north of Cork is a motorway redesignation candidate.

The Roads Act 2007 was passed into law in mid-2007. This Act makes provision for the redesignation of suitable dual carriageways to motorway status. The National Roads Authority made formal applications under Section 8 of the Act to the Minister for Transport on 16 October 2007 regarding dual carriageways which the authority believed to be suitable for redesignation as motorways. On 29 January 2008, the Department of Transport published notice of the Minister's intention to make the orders being sought and invited submissions or observations to be made to the Minister regarding the NRA's applications. The initial applications proposed the following roads be redesignated as motorways:

Route Proposed motorway section Destinations
N6 road Kinnegad (M6 J2) – Athlone[4] (Dublin) – Galway
N7 road South of Borris-in-Ossory to Annacotty[5] Dublin – Limerick
N8 road UrlingfordFermoy[6] (Dublin) – Cork
N9 road KilcullenWaterford (junction with proposed N25 road)[7] (Dublin) – Waterford

The consultation procession lasted until 28 March 2008. On 17 July 2008 the Minister signed a statutory instrument reclassifying all the HQDCs then either under construction or recently completed on the N7/M7, and N8/M8 as well as parts of the N6/M6 and N9/M9 as motorway. [8] The redesignations came into effect on September 24, 2008.[9] The Carlow bypass and Kilbeggan-Athlone roads opened with motorway signage but with temporary 100 km/h general speed limits between their opening and their official re-designation as motorways. These roads now operate under motorway restrictions with motorway signage and use the M prefix. The standard speed limit on these roads is now 120 km/h.

On 30 September 2008, the NRA proposed that the following dual-carriageways be re-designated as motorways:

Route Proposed motorway section Destinations
N2 road Junction 2 – north of Ashbourne[10] Dublin – Derry
N3 road MulhuddartDunboyne[11] Dublin – Ballyshannon
N4 road Kinnegad – McNead's Bridge[12] Dublin – Sligo
N6 road AthloneGalway[13] (Dublin) – Galway
N7 road AnnacottyLimerick[14] Dublin – Limerick
N8 road WatergrasshillCork[15] (Dublin) – Cork
N11 road AshfordRathnew and ArklowGorey[16] (Dublin) – Wexford
N18 road EnnisGalway[17] LimerickGalway
N20 road LimerickPatrickswell[18] LimerickCork

The closing date for submissions was 14 November 2008. It is expected that the statutory instrument (subject to acceptance of the proposals) will be passed in early 2009 and will come into effect in mid-2009.

See also

External links


  1. ^ [1] Transport 21: National Roads 2015
  2. ^ [2] Department of Transport: Motorway Redesignation
  3. ^ [3] Irish Statute Book: Roads Act 2007
  4. ^ [4] Department of Transport: N6-Proposed Motorway Declarations
  5. ^ [5] Department of Transport: N7-Proposed Motorway Declarations
  6. ^ [6] Department of Transport: N8-Proposed Motorway Declarations
  7. ^ [7] Department of Transport: N9-Proposed Motorway Declarations
  8. ^ [8] S.I No. 279-2008 — Roads Act 2007 (Declaration of Motorways) Order 2008
  9. ^ [9] Irish Times: Just under 300km of roads upgraded to motorway
  10. ^ [10] Department of Transport: N2-Proposed Motorway Declarations
  11. ^ [11] Department of Transport: N3-Proposed Motorway Declarations
  12. ^ [12] Department of Transport: N4-Proposed Motorway Declarations
  13. ^ [13] Department of Transport: N6-Proposed Motorway Declarations
  14. ^ [14] Department of Transport: N7-Proposed Motorway Declarations
  15. ^ [15] Department of Transport: N8-Proposed Motorway Declarations
  16. ^ [16] Department of Transport: N11-Proposed Motorway Declarations
  17. ^ [17] Department of Transport: N18-Proposed Motorway Declarations
  18. ^ [18] Department of Transport: N20-Proposed Motorway Declarations


Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address