A Cork TD has expressed his disappointment that Cork’s Northern Ring Road (CNRR) was not announced as part of the infrastructure improvements for Cork in Budget 2021.
Sinn Féin TD Thomas Gould said that the €215 million upgrade of the Dunkettle Interchange was welcomed and “is an important part of infrastructure” but said that it is “just a tiny part of the overall Northern Ring Road development”.
Deputy Gould said that 2030 would be “an ambitious outlook at this stage” for the completion of the road which is planned for implementation in the latter period of the Cork Metropolitan Area Transport Strategy (CMATS) 2040.
“It’s not even in the national plans between now and 2027. It’s really disappointing that it wasn't announced on Tuesday, especially when we have a Cork Taoiseach, Cork Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform and the Cork Minister for Foreign Affairs. This is something they could have delivered on and would have made a big difference,” he said.
Deputy Gould said that the Northern Ring Road is the “single most vital piece of infrastructure” which would tie in areas such as Glanmire, Ballyvolane, Knocknaheeny, Tower, Blarney and other rural areas and allow for the diversion of traffic in the case of a flood or road traffic collision in the Jack Lynch Tunnel or on the South Link.
He said that companies are not enticed to invest in Cork North Central as “there is no proper infrastructure”.
“Especially companies with heavy goods vehicles and articulated lorries who go to the south side of the river because there's the Jack Lynch Tunnel and the South Link and all the infrastructure,” he said.
Independent Councillor Kenneth O’Flynn echoed the concerns of Deputy Gould and said that business is being lost “day in day out by not having the Northern Ring Road” which he said “should be the priority of this Government”.
“We could probably double the amount of business between the Limerick and Galway region in the next 10 years if there was a proper road network going to the Port of Cork,” he said.
“Every announcement is welcome but it’s time for action rather than announcements.
“We have an IDA estate up in the northside in Dublin Hill which is virtually vacant and bordering dereliction. It seems to be a haven for joy riders and drinking parties rather than international and multinational investments.
“We have proven we can do very well when it comes to multinational business via call centres but we have to now up our game to start building on that,” he said.
Meanwhile, Fianna Fáil Councillor Tony Fitzgerald welcomed recent developments in relation to the restart of plans for Cork’s Northern Ring Road after discussions with Minister for Public Expenditure Michael McGrath, representatives of the TII and Cork City City Council which he said have given him “some optimism”.
“I’m glad this project is back on track to give the Northside of the City a place of opportunity of growth and development equal to other parts of the city and county and a gateway for economic growth.
“I understand that it is too early in the process to be able to give any timelines or costs, until the route and business case are developed, but my role was to restart the project in the interest of business, social and the economic development of the northside of the city.
“The news that Cork City Council received €250,000 grant funding from TII to progress the route selection process for the proposed Northern Ring Road and the €140,000 from the NTA to progress the route selection of the Northern Distributor Road is crucial to the kickstart of the project,” he said.