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The M50 motorway is a motorway in Irelandmarker running in a C-shaped ring around the north-eastern, northern, western and southern sides of the capital city, Dublinmarker. The northern end of the route is located at the entrance to the Dublin Port Tunnelmarker. Anti-clockwise it heads northwest through the tunnel and then veers west at a junction with the M1 motorway. It crosses the dual West-Linkmarker toll bridges over the River Liffeymarker in west Dublin, and forms a loop around the south-east of Dublinmarker to meet the M11 route (running south to Wexford) at Shankhillmarker, County Dublinmarker.

The M50 was first proposed in the Dublin Transportation Study of 1971. Construction began on the first part of the M50, the Western Parkway, in 1987. This section of the M50, between Junctions 6 (Blanchardstown) and 11 (Tallaght), opened to traffic in 1990. This was followed in 1996 by the Northern Cross section between Junctions 6 and 3 and the Southern Cross between Junctions 11 and 13 which opened in 2001. The completed M50 motorway was formally opened on 30 June 2005, and later the Dublin Port Tunnel, which was opened on 20 December 2006, was included as part of the route.

Work commenced in early 2006 on upgrading earlier sections of motorway. Many of the grade-separated signal-controlled roundabout interchanges are being replaced with free-flowing junctions and the road from the M1 junction to Sandyfordmarker will be widened to three lanes in each direction with a fourth auxiliary lane provided between junctions.


M50 at the N81 intersection (J11)
Upgraded section of M50

The M50 was originally planned to divert traffic traveling on National Primary Routes away from the city (a full bypass of Dublin). Due to urban expansion it now runs through Dublin's suburbs and serves a route for Dublin itself, connecting the suburbs.

All of the National Primary Routes leaving Dublin have junctions with the M50. The intersections were originally in the form of grade-separated signal-controlled roundabout junctions, not free-flowing interchanges. The other primary routes served are the N2 to Derrymarker/Monaghanmarker, N3 to Navanmarker/Cavanmarker/Northwest, N4/M4 to Galwaymarker/Sligomarker, N7/M7 (N8/M8) to Corkmarker/Limerickmarker/Waterfordmarker, and the N11/M11 to Wexfordmarker. Additional junctions along the motorway serve other suburbs of Dublin such as Ballymunmarker, Tallaghtmarker, Naasmarker, Dundrummarker, Sandyford and Cherrywoodmarker.

Most of these interchanges were subject to high levels of traffic congestion, as was the former toll-plaza north of the West-Link bridge. The busier roundabout junctions were signal-controlled, with tailbacks extending for several kilometres at rush hour. The most infamous was the Red Cow roundabout junction with the N7, formerly dubbed the "Mad Cow Roundabout". As well as being the junction of two of the busiest roads in the State, the Luas tram Red Line from Tallaght to the city centre used to cross two slip roads at-grade, before continuing city-bound in the median of the R110 (formerly N7). As part of the M50 upgrade works (see below), these at-grade crossings have now been removed, and as of December 2008, the interchange has been completely reconstructed. This has greatly reduced the congestion at this once-notorious traffic blackspot.

The roundabout at the N3 is also notable as the Royal Canalmarker and the Dublin-Sligo railway line pass through its centre.

The original speed limit on the route was 70mph (112km/h), with the section between Junctions 12 and 14 subject to a lower limit of 60mph(96km/h). The reduced limit on this section was due to more undulating terrain, more numerous and tighter bends and their associated reduced sight distances. These limits were increased to 120km/h and 100km/h respectively when speed limits nationwide were converted to kilometres per hour. The sections have speed limits as follows:

  • Dublin Portmarker and the Dublin Port Tunnelmarker to Junction 3 - 80km/h. This is because a number of lane changes are necessary in both directions: Southbound, cars must merge to the far left to avoid the tunnel entrance whilst Northbound, HGVs and other tunnel traffic must merge with the N1-M50 traffic coming from the city.
  • Junction 3 to Junction 6 - Although the true limit remains at 120km/h, this has been reduced to 60km/h whilst under construction, and the upgraded section will open at 100km/h.
  • Junction 6 to Junction 14 - 100 km/h. The upgraded section between Junctions 6 and 12 has a reduced "urban motorway" limit due to reduced sight lines and narrower lanes as a result of the addition of a concrete barrier and widening. The section between Junctions 12 and 14 had a temporary limit of 60km/h as it is also being upgraded.
  • Junction 14 to Junction 17 - 120km/h

Exit list

M50 access ramp
Between J1 and J2

M50 Motorway
Southbound Junction Northbound
Start of motorway Terminal 1,2 End of motorway Dublin Portmarker Terminal 1,2
Toll tunnelmarker (free for HGVs & buses)
No access City Centre N1 Non-Tunnel traffic
No access Coolockmarker, Santrymarker R104
Belfastmarker, Dublin Airportmarker M1, marker N32 (R107) Belfastmarker, Dublin Airportmarker M1, marker N32 (R107)
Ballymunmarker R108 Ballymunmarker R108
Finglasmarker, marker, Derrymarker N2 (R135) Finglasmarker, marker, Derrymarker N2 (R135)
Castleknockmarker, Blanchardstownmarker, The NORTH WEST N3 Castleknockmarker, Blanchardstownmarker, The NORTH WEST N3
West-Linkmarker toll bridge (now free flow)
Palmerstownmarker, Lucanmarker, The WEST N4 Palmerstownmarker, Lucanmarker, The WEST N4
Clondalkinmarker, Crumlinmarker R110, The SOUTH N7 Clondalkinmarker, Crumlinmarker R110, The SOUTH N7
Ballymount R838 Ballymount R838
Tallaghtmarker, Templeoguemarker, Blessingtonmarker, Tullowmarker N81 Tallaghtmarker, Templeoguemarker, Blessingtonmarker, Tullowmarker N81
Firhousemarker, Knocklyon, (R113) Firhousemarker, Knocklyon, (R113)
Dundrummarker (R826), Sandyfordmarker (R133), Ballinteermarker (R113) Dundrummarker (R826), Sandyfordmarker, Dun Laoghairemarker N31
Dun Laoghairemarker N31 No access
Leopardstownmarker / Carrickminesmarker Leopardstownmarker / Carrickminesmarker
Loughlinstownmarker, Shankillmarker N11 Loughlinstownmarker / Cherrywoodmarker
Motorway continues as M11 for The SOUTH EAST

(M11 )
Shankillmarker, Dublinmarker M11

The South Eastern Motorway section, a radial route, was originally meant to be part of the M11. It curves in the "wrong" direction relative to the city centre).

South of Junction 17, the motorway mainline continues as the M11 motorway southbound, with the next opportunity to exit the motorway at the Bray Northmarker exit.

There is no Junction 8, the junction number having being reserved for a potential extension of the M7 motorway from Lucan/Clondalkin to Naas. This is unlikely to be built given that the N7 Naas Road has been upgraded to dual three lane with at grade junctions converted to grade-separated interchanges or left-in, left-out (LILOs) junctions. However, it is an objective of South Dublin County Council to construct a new junction and use to it provide local access to the Cloverhill area of Palmerstownmarker. This is also very unlikely to happen as the NRA have stated they are against the provision of new interchanges on the existing M50 as they are seen to contribute to traffic congestion on the route and undermine its function as a motorway.

Future plans

M50 J13/J14 overlap
M50 widening (Southern Cross section between J12 and J13), looking west (northbound)
The M50 motorway mainly consists of two-lane dual carriageway, though auxiliary/weaving lanes are provided at several junctions. Construction is (June 2008) well advanced upgrading several of the roundabout junctions, including the Red Cow, to free-flowing grade-separated interchanges and also widening the motorway to three lanes in each direction. The upgrade project also includes widening the surrounding motorway to three or four lanes each direction from the M1 to Sandyford with the extra driving lanes replacing the existing wide grass-covered median. The upgrade programme was planned to include three stages – the upgrade of the section between the N4 and R838 road (along with replacing the interchanges at junctions 7 and 9 with freeflow layouts), followed by similar upgrades of the northern and then southern motorway sections as far south as Junction 14. Junctions 14-17 will not be upgraded at this time. The upgraded Junction 7 (Lucanmarker/Palmerstownmarker) was completed on 20 December 2007, with Junction 10's upgrade (in a reverse of the situation at the other junctions, this involved the installation of traffic lights) having been completed some weeks previously. Within Phase I, work on Junction 9 and the mainline is ongoing and due to be completed during 2008.

Completion of Dublin's ring road by the building of an Eastern Bypass of the city has been proposed. This plan is controversial, as it would require a tunnel across Sandymount Strandmarker to or possibly through Booterstown marshmarker bird sanctuary. A motorway reservation from Sandyford to Booterstownmarker has been included in the Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown Development Plan, with space allowed for an interchange where it crosses the N11. The Dublin Port Tunnelmarker, which opened on 20 December 2006, would form the northern half of the Eastern bypass.

In 2007, controversy arose over a plan to buy out NTR plc's rights to the West-Link toll bridge. The full details of the plan were announced on 20 September 2007, following NTR plc's previous agreement to the early termination of their contract. The new operator will be BetEire Flow [42905]. The new operators will continue charge the NTR (2008) toll charge of cars of EUR 2 for cars who use one of the pre-existing electronic toll collection systems. However there will be a higher EUR 2.50 for those who register their number plate with the new operator, and an even higher charge of EUR 3 for those who fail to register in advance. [42906]. Cars from outside Ireland are subject to the same rules as Irish registered vehicles. Non payment of a toll is an offence and the NRA, through a European enforcement agency, will look to recover all unpaid tolls and fines. The responsibility is with foreign motorists to make themselves aware of their responsibilities. Ownership of the bridge passed from NTR plc to the NRA on 1 August 2008 and BetEire Flow (trading as eFlow) took over from NTR as toll operators on 30 August 2008. The toll plaza will be fully dismantled by Autumn 2008. There were always going to be teething problems associated with the new barrier free system, however the long delays associated with phoning eFlow to sort out misapplied fines have resulted in people giving up and just paying the €41.50 fine even though they didn’t use the service.

You must pay for the journey before 8pm the following day. If it is not paid for within this time an additional charge of €3 is added per trip, You will then have 14 days to pay this charge. If it is not paid by then an additional charge of €41.50 is added and you then have 56 days to pay this charge.

Unregistered users can pay the toll at a nearby Payzone outlet, or online or by phone.

Another outer orbital road has been proposed for the Dublin region. It will, if approved, run approximately from Droghedamarker via Navanmarker, Trimmarker and Kilcockmarker towards Naasmarker.

See also

External links


  1. M50 Tolls is a Disaster Say Car Rental Companies.
  2. M50 Toll Bridge Disaster Continues.

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