THE long awaited M9 motorway service area near Kilcullen is to opened by this time next year leading to the creation of 45 to 50 full time jobs, but local businesses remain concerned that it could have a negative impact on their trade.
Logal proceedings surrounding the awarding of the tender to operate the site were resolved last week, opening the way for the facility to finally be developed.
The Kilcullen facility, along with two others near Gorey in Wexford and Moate in Westmeath, were initially expected to open several years ago after Transport Infrastructure Ireland chose retailer Topaz to operate them.
This decision was challenged in the courts by the SuperStop 2 Consortium, which involves Applegreen and Tedcastles Oil Products and were the underbidder for the concession to operate the three service areas.
Transport Infrastructure Ireland says that the disputed legal issues have now been resolved and a contract has been signed with Topaz, which is now operating as Circle K.
100 construction jobs will be created during the construction period.
The site, which will only be accessed from the motorway, is already in place with ramps constructed to and from the motorway. Plans are now underway to move ahead with development of the full service station on the site. It is hoped that the service station will be operational by this time next year.
The development has been welcomed by Deputy Martin Heydon who said it would be be a boost for the local area.
He said that it would provide a much-needed rest and services stop on the M9 where there is currently no stop between Carlow and Kill.
The station will be an online service station – meaning it can only be accessed from the motorway and when the idea was first proposed it faced significant opposition from local businesses.
Yesterday Seamus and Anne O’Reilly O’Reilly of Crookstown Service Station said their concerns hadn’t changed.
“We all understand the need for motorways and services sites. However, on the M9 this was to be have been achieved through the provision of services sites both in Carlow and Kilkenny, which have opened. The food, fuel and rest area services being provided between Kilcullen and Castledermot are also serving these motorists. The past concerns of local communities, people and businesses were for saving jobs and this hasn’t changed. Since the opening of the new motorway it has been through hard graft, innovation and constant, local support that this area is just about becoming vibrant again with a new school, adult education centre and several small businesses, which directly employ over 100 people.
“Government organisations fail to understand the impact of closures and loss of jobs in a small rural area such as ours. We are told that there is a definite need for a third station and we also understand that it will lead to the creation of 50 jobs. All we can do is hope, let’s hope that all our achievements won’t be lost through this as is common in lots of rural areas.”
Teresa Wall of Walls of Kilgowan/The Priory Restaurant said while most of their trade is local the development of the service station could put the business, which they have worked hard to build up over the years, in jeopardy.
“Since the motorway opened it has been a constant battle to keep the business open and people in employment. We had to totally change how we did things. In the past we had a good passing trade, particularly on match days and when there was racing in Gowran Park. Since the motorway came we have had to build the business up again and now we do a different type of trade with the majority of it coming from local people who have been very supportive of us. We still have some passing trade but when it opens the service station wll take that trade away.”
Teresa said the legal dispute over the service station contract gave the business time and space to change the business. However, she is adamant that the building of the service station is a waste of public resources which threatens local jobs.
“The area from Kilcullen to Crookstown and Moone is well serviced by facilities and it would be very easy and relatively inexpensive to put signs on the motorway directing people to these services off the motorway. Instead the powers that be bought land, built a bridge to nowhere and plan to build a service station there when it would be more economical to build a proper link road into Crookstown