Spend now to stop recovery stalling, Ibec and CIF warn
Published 07/04/2016 | 02:30
Stalled infrastructural projects now threat to derail the recovery in the regions.
The warning came as the Construction Industry Federation (CIF) urged the new Government to set firm start dates for more than €1bn worth of investment schemes planned for outside Dublin.
The CIF pointed out that, in Cork alone, major projects such as the new Dunkettle M8 interchange, the Cork-Ringaskiddy road, the Macroom bypass and the Cork city flood defences were all sanctioned over the past 18 months but have yet to begin.
The failure to even sanction design funding for the €1bn Cork-Limerick motorway was described as creating a potential future stranglehold on economic expansion between two vital regional centres.
"Transport Infrastructure Ireland, who operate the main roads around Cork, need to protect national routes for national traffic," said CIF regional director Conor O'Connell.
"Therefore, there are issues when it comes to developing projects around current infrastructure in Cork. We need infrastructure to be upgraded so that we can take further development in Cork," he added.
Limerick and Cork business leaders have urged the Government to consider private funding for the stalled €1bn motorway between the two cities.
Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe last year decided not to allow the proposed Cork-Limerick motorway to even go to the design stage.
The decision to shelve the 80km route came despite warnings that existing sections are among the most dangerous road stretches in the country. Fine Gael and Labour politicians are now urging the minister to sanction, at the very minimum, by-passes and relief roads for the worst traffic bottlenecks on the road.
IBEC has now added its voice to the row, warning that the Government should consider a special Public Private Partnership (PPP) for a motorway regarded as one of Ireland's priority road projects.
IBEC economist Fergal O'Brien said it was particularly astonishing that Ireland wasn't availing of historically low interest rates to tackle capital projects that would have obvious long-term economic benefits.
"The M20 is a perfect candidate for a PPP approach," he said.
The proposed motorway aims to slash 30 minutes from the commute time between Ireland's second and third largest cities and remove stretches of single-carriageway primary road.
It was hoped the motorway would also ease congestion with major bypasses of towns like Mallow, Buttevant, Charleville and enhance access to areas like Croom.
Mr Donohue stunned Limerick and Cork councils by refusing to even allow the project go to the planning stage last year.
The planning request had been lodged by the National Roads Authority (NRA) which has indentified the proposed M20 Cork-Limerick motorway as one of Ireland's priority road projects.
Business leaders admitted it was an open secret the Government didn't have the funding for the entire €1bn motorway blueprint. However, the refusal to even sanction planning for the project surprised advocates.