Anger at motorway spur idea that could save State €340m
The Government could save more than €340m by creating a new route for the Cork-Limerick motorway to exploit the existing M8 Dublin-Cork road.
Government planners are set to examine the option on the basis that it would also offer the double advantage of creating a key segment of the M24/N24 Limerick-Tipperary-Rosslare motorway.
However, Cork and Limerick politicians have hit out at any suggestion the long-awaited M20 motorway could be diverted through Tipperary just to save money.
Cork County Council members have already rejected any such alternative route - warning it would spell future economic disaster for towns and villages in north Cork and south Limerick.
While no formal proposal has yet been made, it is understood Government planners are considering alternatives to the existing M20 route through Mallow, Charleville, Croom and Raheen because of its estimated €840m to €1bn construction cost.
A Cork-Limerick route through Mallow, Charleville and Croom is 105km long.
However, a spur from Cahir in Tipperary, off the main M8 Dublin-Cork motorway, to Limerick is just 63km.
At an average motorway construction cost of €8m per kilometre, according to Engineers Ireland figures, that would represent a cost saving of €340m for the Government.
However, whereas the direct Cork-Limerick route is 105km, any new diverted motorway via Cahir would involve a total distance between Ireland's second and third cities of 141km.
Councillor Frank O'Flynn said the situation was "a joke".
"The biggest losers here will be the towns and villages in north Cork and south Limerick and their economic development," he said.
"I would ask the Government to put the funding in place for the M20 - we are now the laughing stock of Europe with our second and third cities not connected by a proper motorway."