Could Open : Kells-Mullingar 2020; Birr-Nenagh 2020; Ardee-Kells 2025; Mullingar-Tullamore 2030; Tullamore-Birr 2040
Status : Some parts under consideration
Dual Carriageway : 35.8 km (Mullingar-Tullamore); Single Carriageway : 100.3 km (Ardee-Kells-Mullingar and Tullamore-Nenagh)
It is difficult to make cross country trips in Ireland that don't involve Dublin in some way, as the road network is radial. Two very useful and complementary routes forming an X would involve a northeast-southwest dual carriageway, and a northwest-southeast route. The existing northeast-southwest route is the N52.
The N52 allows movement between Belfast, Newry and Dundalk down to Limerick and Shannon without passing through Dublin. Along the way, the road skirts past Kells, with the eponymous book, Mullingar, Tullamore, the very chilly Birr and Nenagh.
The central section from Mullingar to Tullamore has seen complete replacement with a new (though single-carriage) route in the last number of years, including a bypass of Tullamore. As of 2012, the penultimate part north of the M6 was completed, leaving only the Tullamore-Kilbeggan link (a new road between the M6 and Tullamore). All this is due to the designation in the government's National Spatial Strategy that Athlone, Mullingar and Tullamore formed a single unit and upgrading transport links between them therefore became a goal. Although this plan was never properly followed, the goal of improving links between these neighbouring towns was a worthwhile one.
As for the rest of the N52 route, however, construction is not planned and is therefore a long way off. Some minor realignments have taken place recently, such as a Macetown north of Mullingar.
The proposed cross-section is dualling for the Mullingar-Tullamore section, due to traffic levels, and single for the rest. The dual section would be online except for a new route across the M6 and to the west of Tullamore, greatly shortening the distance. The single carriageway segments would follow the existing route; one noteworthy change is that the N52 would proceed north from the N4 at Mullingar at junction 15 instead of 16, simplifying the route.
As for numbering, this route provides connectivity between a large number of towns and other routes. 52 is a secondary route number and is not befitting of such an important route. At the northeastern end, that part of the road that connects the M1 to the N2 is already numbered 33, a primary designation. The whole N52 route should be renumbered N33 to reflect its importance.
Update March 2013:
This page has been changed. The route was originally all proposed as dual carriageway and known as "N52 Nenagh-M1". Now it is mostly single and is renamed.
Update July 2019:
Progress continues to be made realigning Mullingar-Delvin. The rate of work is slow, but within 10-15 years Mullingar to Ardee could be substantially complete.
Please give your opinion on this road proposal. Rate it out of 10, and whether you think the standard (road width) is appropriate.