IBEC, the group that represents Irish business, has said that as the economy gradually reopens and restrictions ease, decades of chronic underinvestment in key infrastructure including transport is threatening to undermine the prospects for economic recovery.
The group is calling on Government to ensure that the National Investment Framework for Transport in Ireland (NIFTI) supports the delivery of an enhanced National Development Plan (NDP), underpinned by an ambitious programme of world-class public services and infrastructure development.
Ibec Regional Policy Executive George Gill said: “NIFTI can play a central role in ensuring the delivery of an enhanced ‘NDP Plus’ programme of investment to support better lives and better business in the Cork region.
"Both will be key enablers to ensure Cork fulfils its potential as a modern city and region of scale with strong local, regional, national and international connectivity.
“NIFTI must support the promotion of compact, densely populated urban centres as engines for economic progress. Residential densification can enrich character, placemaking and identity, provided that the urban centre is not choked with polluting, congested traffic.
“Traffic congestion risks undermining Cork's growth and impacts its ability to attract and retain staff in our urban centres and compete for investment. Future development of housing in our urban cores must therefore proceed hand in hand with the provision of enhanced public transport services and active travel infrastructure.
“Furthermore, the timescale for the delivery of vital projects is taking far too long. The priority must be to get projects delivered much more rapidly. Accelerated delivery of infrastructure projects must be a central plank of the NDP review process.
“The combined potential of our regional cities is key in creating a counterbalance to Dublin and achieving balanced regional development.
"Improved connectivity between Cork, Limerick and Waterford is essential. Road projects, such as the M20, must be fast-tracked along with other key public transport projects, including light rail.”