DUBLIN (Reuters) - Motorists using Ireland’s new motorway network can expect to find themselves thirsty or bursting for the lavatory because the government hasn’t any money left to build roadside service stations.
The government body in charge of roads has begun erecting signs warning drivers not to expect any rest stops along a network that stretches from the Irish Sea to the Atlantic.
Struggling to plug Europe’s biggest budget deficit and to kickstart the ailing economy simultaneously, Ireland set aside scarce funds to revamp a road network still reminiscent of its past as one of Europe’s poorest countries.
As money ran out the National Roads Authority (NRA) had to scrap plans to build service stations in most places. It is now putting up signs warning of no “online” services ahead and pointing motorists toward petrol stations in nearby towns.
“It’s as important to let people know what’s there as what is not there,” a spokesman for the NRA told the Irish Independent newspaper.
The AA motoring group said it was unacceptable for drivers not to have anywhere stop for the toilet or a coffee for the entire 250 km (155 mile) journey between Ireland’s two biggest cities Dublin and Cork for example, even from a purely safety perspective.
“It’s a pretty poor half measure in all honesty, it does rather devalue the motorway network,” AA Director of Policy Conor Faughnan told RTE radio.
“I guess sign of the times, they are pleading that they simply don’t have the money.”
Reporting by Andras Gergely, editing by Paul Casciato