Businesses back new Cork-Limerick motorway, survey finds

Popular belief that proposed €850m development would enhance economic links

The River Lee in Cork city. File photograph: Bryan O’Brien

The River Lee in Cork city. File photograph: Bryan O’Brien


Businesses in Munster have given their overwhelming support to the proposed €850 million M20 motorway between Cork and Limerick, according to a new survey which found near unanimous belief that it would enhance linkages between the two cities.

The survey of carried out by Red C Research for Cork Chamber and Limerick Chamber found that some 98 per cent of respondents said it would boost economic links between Cork and Limerick with 97 per cent predicting a reduction in traffic congestion and journey times between the two cities.

The survey took place in March with over 250 businesses from Ennis, Limerick Charleville, Mallow and Cork Chambers taking part. Limerick and Cork Chambers have also commissioned Indecon Economic Consultants to look at the benefits of a motorway.

According to the chambers, the motorway would create a seamless Atlantic corridor stretching from Cork to Limerick and up to Galway, which would stimulate the local economies as well as providing a strong complement to Dublin and improving competition there by relieving congestion.

Limerick Chamber chief executive officer James Ring said the survey clearly showed overwhelming support among business for the upgrade of the M20, which is essential to stimulate growth in both cities and areas between.

Cork chamber chief executive officer Conor Healy said the motorway is needed as a “natural complement to Dublin and as a fulcrum point for economic development all the way from Cork to Galway”. It will save time and increase opportunities for people in Munster with knock-on national benefits, he said.

Last week, Minister for Finance Michael Noonan suggested at the budgetary oversight committee that the Cork-Limerick motorway could be built as long as tolls are included as the State would not be able to carry the cost of the project on its own.

If the M20 could be shown to be able to generate income to service borrowings, the European Union’s statistics agency Eurostat would allow it to be kept off the national balance sheet, said Mr Noonan.

Prior to the economic downturn, the National Roads Authority, now part of Transport Infrastructure Ireland, had looked at a number of routes depending on whether they went east or west of Mallow, Buttevant and Charleville in Co Cork, with all options going west of Croom in Co Limerick.

The selected route submitted for planning, east of Mallow and Buttevant but west of Charleville, 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 here 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 and it would cut the travel time between Attyflynn and Blarney from 61 minutes to 45 minutes.