The planned €1bn motorway linking Cork and Limerick will run mainly along the current N20 corridor via Charleville and Mallow, it has been confirmed.
Elected representatives in Limerick and Cork were informed of the decision at a briefing yesterday.
Political and business leaders have long campaigned for the upgrade of the road between Cork and Limerick, and the Government inserted it as a key part of Project Ireland 2040.
Plans for a 100km motorway linking the two cities had first been spoken about as far back as 1998. It progressed through planning and design phases and was submitted to An Bord Pleanála in 2010. However, the project was shelved by then transport minister Leo Varadkar in 2011 due to the recession.
The project team has said that the chosen route provides the highest journey-time savings between Cork and Limerick and has the best potential to reduce the save the greatest number of road-based accidents. Figures released last October showed that ambulances are called to accidents on the current Cork to Limerick road roughly once every week on average.
The motorway will also take thousands of cars out of traffic bottleneck towns like Mallow, Buttevant, and Charleville.
The project team also said that the route would improve public transport service times and reliability, and there would be an opportunity to use the route for express inter-city bus services.
It is also hoped that the motorway will help to grow the Atlantic Economic Corridor by improving connections to West Cork and Kerry and providing opportunities for connection to existing and proposed public transport interchanges.
Some €35m has been spent on the Cork-Limerick road to date, including €20m between 2008 to 2012 before the plan was shelved due to the downturn in the economy. Advisors were recently paid €15m to progress the development of the road.
A public consultation will take place in the latter part of this year, with the preferred option within the broad N20 corridor identified soon after. The Public Spending Code requires that the scheme develop a business case, which needs Government approval before it can be published and submitted to An Bord Pleanála.
A report by Red C on behalf of Cork and Limerick Chambers in 2017 found that the motorway would have the potential to support 4,000 to 5,400 direct jobs in the region and, depending on the nature of investment attracted, could provide an annual gross exchequer impact of €128m.
The report also found the motorway would increase the labour force within a 45-minute commute of major employment centres by 23%, as well as reducing the journey time between Blarney and Patrickswell by 16 minutes to 47 minutes.
The study claimed the motorway would prevent about 118 crashes every year, as well as improving the quality of life for commuters.
The announcement of the route for the motorway comes as Gardaí continue to investigate the most recent fatality on the N20.
This article was first seen on https://www.irishexaminer.com/breakingnews/ireland/1bn-cork-limerick-road-plan-unveiled-982818.html