The Government has insisted that a €1bn motorway linking Cork and Limerick is now "a priority project".
However, Housing Minister Simon Coveney admitted that the long-delayed project would not "be an easy thing to do" given the vast investment required.
"The Government is looking at ways we can finance that sooner rather than later," he said.
His comment signalled a Government rethink on a project which former transport minister Paschal Donohoe refused to even sanction design funding for just over 18 months ago.
Planning for the proposed M20 motorway recommenced last November.
The Construction Industry Federation as well as Cork and Limerick business groups said that a motorway linking Ireland's second and third cities was vital if regional urban centres were to act as a strategic counterweight to Dublin.
Both cities have campaigned for the 80km motorway for the past 25 years.