Future government should look at options for Cork-Limerick motorway – Ryan

Green leader says any savings on proposed motorway could fund light rail in Cork city

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan: ‘I think the best option will probably be a connection to the M8’. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw for The Irish Times

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan: ‘I think the best option will probably be a connection to the M8’. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw for The Irish Times

 

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan has said any future government should look at all four options for the Cork-Limerick motorway and if savings are to be made by choosing a shorter route, they should be invested in public transport.

Mr Ryan said that it made sense to look at all four options including three which incorporate the existing M8 which goes via Mitchelstown rather than automatically assuming a route via Mallow was the best solution.

Cork County Council has strongly backed the western option which would involve construction of a motorway around Mallow, Buttevant and Charleville but Mr Ryan was more circumspect during a visit to Cork.

The Irish Times revealed last week that the original estimate for the cost of the Mallow-Charleville Route of €850-€900 million was from 2010 and that a more recent estimate would put the cost at €1.2 billion.

But Cork city based Green Party Cllr Oliver Moran said he believed utilising the existing M8 as far as Mitchelstown and then bringing a route north to link up with the Limerick-Waterford Road near Limerick would cost just 50per cent of that.

Mr Ryan said the next government should look at all options but if it did choose a route via Mitchelstown, then the savings made on money allocated for the M20 should be ringfenced to improve public transport in Cork and Limerick.

Speaking in Cork where he held a press briefing with the party’s five Cork general election candidates, Mr Ryan said such savings could be invested in advancing a light rail system for Cork and improving cycle lane facilities.

“I think the best option will probably be a connection to the M8 but I wouldn’t presuppose the outcome and if that option is the better outcome and saves money, then I believe that money should be invested in public transport.”

“Yes we need to improve Cork- Limerick and make sure towns like Charleville and Buttevant thrive as we do that but does it have to be a massive motorway coming into Blackpool where there are huge other transport difficulties?

“Could we use other options to divert the traffic away from Cork and not make the mistakes made in Dublin where it’s all about motorways approaching the city and you don’t have the internal public transport options – it doesn’t work.”

Cllr Moran, who is running for the Green Party in Cork North Central, said that the Greens fully recognised that the N20 is inadequate and dangerous in places and requires major upgrades including a bypass of Charleville.

“Given these problems including the need for a widening of the road, it is understandable that many commuters from Mallow and surrounding parts of north Cork would want a motorway there,” he said

But he accused Fine Gael of misleading the public into thinking that a motorway along the N20 is “shovel ready”, when they know a new route selection process is underway and are considering different options.

“Fine Gael are allowing the public to believe a plan that the Taoiseach rejected in 2011, when he was Minister for Transport, is the sole plan right now – it’s cynical and unfair to the people who rely on this road to name it the ‘M20’.”

Speaking at a Fine Gael rally in Ballincollig on Friday night, Mr Varadkar committed the party to upgrading the N20 to a motorway to help improve connectivity between Cork and Limerick as a counterbalance to Dublin.