After three years of construction, the Southern Cross section of the M50 motorway in Dublin opens.

The Southern Cross route is the latest phase of the M50 ring road around Dublin city, extending the M50 to the south from the Balrothery roundabout to Templeogue through Firhouse to Ballinteer. The M50 will eventually extend to the N11 Wicklow road.

The nine kilometre stretch cost £141 million and will carry 50,000 vehicles every day. Although the route was planned over thirty years ago, construction was delayed as a result of legal challenges.

The Southern Cross Route was officially opened today by the Minister for the Environment Noel Dempsey TD who comments on how the new motorway will ease traffic congestion both locally and nationally.

For local people, it's going to mean less congestion in their streets.

Betty Coffey, Cathaoirleach of Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council says the judicial delays in getting the road constructed are something that must be addressed.

It is envisaged that the motorway should reduce deaths on the road. According to statistics, motorways and dual carriageways have a 66% lower death rate than two-lane roads. Cait Keane, Cathaoirleach of South Dublin County Council appeals to motorists to drive carefully.

Work on the final phase of the M50 from Sandyford to Loughlinstown will begin in the autumn with a planned completion date in 2004.

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 7 August 2001. The reporter is Bethan Kilfoil.