Located in the midlands of Ireland, the M7 / M8 toll road is a segment of the N7, which runs from Limerick to Dublin. It also serves those travelling from Dublin to Cork. This 41-km stretch of motorway bypasses Abbeyleix, Durrow and Cullahill (between Dublin and Cork) and Mountrath, Castletown and Borris-in-Ossory (between Dublin and Limerick).
This wishbone-shaped bypass motorway is operated by the Celtic Roads Group through a planned private partnership (PPP) with the National Roads Authority (NRA). It officially opened in 2010 and has reduced travel time between Dublin and Cork by as much as 45 minutes.
In addition to the project’s 41 km of dual carriageway roads, it also saw the construction of single carriageway links, roughly 15 km of side roads, a total of 46 bridges and a roundabout at Borris-in-Ossory.
This project featured a pair of conservation initiatives as well. Before construction began, archaeological excavations were carried out, and 88 distinct sites were discovered. Nearly half of these dated to the Bronze Age, though the Neolithic, Iron Age and Medieval period were also represented.
The initiative also included measures to protect the environment. The project team cooperated with the local fisheries board to avoid harming any aquatic life. Furthermore, ledges were installed under the motorway to allow otters, foxes and other small mammals to cross the safely.
Tolls collected on the M7 / M8 offset the cost of its construction and are fed back into its maintenance and upkeep. The toll booth is located between Portlaoise and the wishbone-shaped junction between the M7 and the M8.
Tolls are subject to change over time. As of 2013, motorcycles exceeding 50cc pay a toll of €1.00, while motor cars pay €1.90. Commercial vehicles, including buses and coaches, pay more, though the toll is usually included in the fare. For an up-to-date look at current tolls, check the NRA website.
There are several ways to pay the toll. Residents and long-term visitors can secure a discount by fitting their vehicle with an electronic tag that is scanned as they pass through the toll gateway. These tags work on all of the tolled motorways in Ireland.
However, this is not a practical option for tourists or short-term visitors. In their case, the most efficient way to proceed is to keep exact change with them in the car and pay in cash on the spot.