Funding allocated to review Cork to Limerick motorway plan

Decision to allocate €1m a significant development towards making motorway a reality, say local TDs

A sign for the N20 is seen on the approach road to Limerick city. The Cork-Limerick motorway project has been estimated to cost €850 million.

A sign for the N20 is seen on the approach road to Limerick city. The Cork-Limerick motorway project has been estimated to cost €850 million.

 

A Government decision to allocate €1 million to a mid-term review of plans to upgrade the Cork-Limerick road to motorway status has been welcomed by representatives in both counties.

Cork East Labour TD Sean Sherlock and Limerick City TD Jan O’Sullivan said the decision by Minister for Transport Shane Ross to allocate the money to allow an update on the N20 was a significant development towards making the motorway a reality.

Mr Sherlock said the decision to make funding available meant that Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII)which is charged with providing road and rail infrastructure could resume preparatory work on the Cork-Limerick motorway project which has been estimated to cost €850 million.

“It keeps the northern relief road for Mallow alive and answers the question about whether TII was going to progress a motorway from Cork to Limerick. Munster people need this. This is the key to unlocking the south-west for further job creation and regional development.”

Ms O’Sullivan said that the existing N20, linking Ireland’s second and third cities was “totally inadequate” and it was important now that Mr Ross had earmarked funding for a review that momentum is maintained to ensure the project is delivered upon to help more balanced regional growth.

A letter from TII CEO Michael Nolan to Limerick Fine Gael Senator Kieran O’Donnell, confirmed that TII will restart the planning process immediately.

Hopes dashed

Hopes of progress being made on the motorway were dashed in 2015 when Mr Ross’s predecessor as Minister for Transport, Paschal Donohue, said he had no plans to review the 2011 decision by his predecessor Leo Varadkar to ask the NRA to withdraw its planning application for the motorway

Last year, Sean O’Neill of the National Roads Authority, now the TII, outlined in detail to The Irish Times the work that had already been done on the project before it was postponed on Mr Varadkar’s instructions in 2011 when it was estimated that it would cost €850 million.

Some €150 million of this €850 million was estimated to go on land purchase, with the remainder allocated for planning and design, survey works, site investigation, archaeological examination, environmental mitigation measures and actual construction, said Mr O’Neill.

The NRA examined several routes before it selected one for planning which ran east of Mallow and Buttevant but west of Charleville. It would have required the compulsory purchase of 16 residences and a total of 905 hectares affecting 235 farms and approximately 247 other properties.

The motorway along this route would have involved the construction of 44 new road bridges, eight major river bridges, a number of smaller water crossings and two railway crossings, as well as 64km of local roads including national, regional, local and private-access roads.

The motorway would extend for about 80km from the junction with the proposed Cork northern ring road near Blarney outside Cork city to the junction with the N21 at Attyflynn in Co Limerick. It would cut the travel time between Attyflynn and Blarney from 61 minutes to 45 minutes, Mr O’Neill said.