Cork-Limerick motorway to be in capital plan, Taoiseach confirms

Work on €850m project could start by 2021 if planning is granted

The announcement that the long-awaited M20 motorway between Cork and Limerick has been given the go-ahead by the Government, has been welcomed by business and political leaders in both cities.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar on Friday confirmed that the M20 had been included among motorway and road projects for which €2.4 billion has been set aside in the budget. He said funding was secured to bring it through route selection phase and to An Bord Pleanála.

Mr Varadkar noted that just two weeks ago a 57km stretch of motorway from Tuam to Gort in Co Galway was opened. He said the next stage of developing an Atlantic corridor was to complete the Cork-Limerick section of the motorway, the M20.

He was speaking at a Cork Chamber business breakfast briefing at the newly developed Páirc Uí Chaoimh in Cork.


“The M20 is a huge project with a massive price tag. But it is, however, worth it.” he said.

The project which was shelved in 2011 due to the economic downturn was previously estimated at a cost of €850 million.

It is expected to cut driving times on the route of some 100km between the two cities to less than an hour and it may be built by 2025.

According to informed sources, the preparatory work done on the project previously should enable Transport Infrastructure Ireland to get the project to An Bord Pleanála by some time in 2020. This would allowing the planning authority up to a year to adjudicate on the application, construction work could start some time in 2021.

It is estimated construction of the motorway, which was previously projected to involve building 44 new road bridges and eight major river bridges as well as two railway crossings, could be completed within four years, with a possible delivery date before the end of 2025.

The previous plan was for an 80km motorway 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 Varadkar said the upgrading of the route to a motorway would prove a real means of releasing the full economic and social potential of not just Cork and Limerick but of Munster generally. He said he was personally committed to its delivery.

Confirmation that the project will be included in the 10-year capital plan was welcomed by Cork Chamber chief executive Conor Healy, who said he hoped to see the M20 at the top of the list for delivery when it came to the new infrastructure projects around the country.

Limerick Chamber chief executive Dr James Ring said delivery of the M20 would create "a seamless motorway from Cork to Limerick and Galway, which creates enormous possibilities for economic development along this Atlantic corridor.

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times