Sunday 19 May 2019

Chambers call for swift delivery of M20 motorway

Deputy O'Keeffe 'frustrated' at delay in putting timetable in place for the multi-million euro project

Deputy Kevin O’Keeffe
Deputy Kevin O’Keeffe

Bill Browne

The economic importance of progressing the M20 Cork-Limerick motorway without delay cannot be understated given the immense boost the route will bring to the entire south-west region.

That's according to the Cork and Limerick Chambers of Commerce, representatives from which recently met with the newly appointed delivery team for the multi-million euro project. 

Speaking following the meeting, Cork Chamber CEO Conor Healy pointed to the findings of a 2017 report commissioned by the two chambers, which led to the M20 being given priority in the Government's much-hyped 10-year National Development Plan to 2028.  Mr Healy said the findings of the Indecon/Red C report showed that when completed the 8okm stretch of motorway linking the two cities had the potential to bring 5,400 additional new jobs to the region. 

"This would increase the labour force within a 45-minute commute of these major employment centres by 23%. The report also confirmed that the existing N20 corridor had significant capacity constraints that both inhibit economic development and compromise safety," said Mr Healy. 

"At a time of growing international uncertainty it is critical that we progress this project promptly to improve the competitive environment of Irish business. The M20 has the capacity to positively influence balanced regional development on the island like no other project, with 98% of all chamber members favouring its construction," he added. 

Limerick Chamber CEO Dee Ryan described the appointment of the project delivery team to Cork and Limerick City Councils as a "key milestone to unlocking new social and economic opportunities along the Atlantic Corridor."

"We look forward to working with the delivery team and the appointed contractors to ensure the M20 gets moving as quickly as possible," said Ms Ryan.  

However, not everyone is happy with the progress being made on the project, with Cork East Fianna Fail TD Kevin O'Keeffe expressing his frustration that a definitive time-frame for the project has yet to be put in place. 

He said that, despite repeated requests, Transport Minister Shane Ross has yet to confirm a definitive start date for the project, pointing out that more than 12 months have passed since the preferred route via Mallow, Buttevant and Charleville was set in stone. 

"Preparatory works should have sped up the process of completing the design and layout. But all we get from the Government is a plethora of announcements confirming its commitment to the project. In contrast, they can, with the stroke of a pen, amend the design of the Metro North system in Dublin, incurring an extra €100 million cost to the taxpayer," said Deputy O'Keeffe. 

While also stressing the economic value of the motorway to the region, Deputy O'Keeffe said it was also important to stress its value in terms of road safety.

"As the existing N20 gets busier and busier, we could easily see further attempts by the authorities to reduce access from minor roads, as evidenced by the current debacle at the Waterloo Junction," he said. 

"Given these critically important considerations, it is now imperative that the Government sets out a clear time-frame for the M20 sooner rather than later."