THE current M20 plans will see a motorway running into 19th-century roads, according to Cork North Central Fianna Fáil TD Billy Kelleher, who is calling for a full northern ring road to be delivered alongside it.
Speaking in the Dáil, Mr Kelleher quizzed Transport Minister Shane Ross on plans for the road, which is given just a single line in the Ireland 2040 plan. It is expected that only part of the road will be built to accommodate the Dunkettle Interchange and the Cork-Limerick Motorway.
He said the Government is not planning for the future but trying to catch up with the present, and an orbital route around the northside is needed to tackle Cork’s dependence on the south link road and the Jack Lynch Tunnel.
“The region and city is completely dependent on the tunnel at the moment. If anything happens to it, or if there is a catastrophic accident in the tunnel, or it is closed for a long time because of maintenance, or if there was major structural damage done to the tunnel which meant it closed for a long time, the region would stop.
“It is the only major arterial route across the River Lee from north to south. The deepwater port and the airport are in the south. All the hospitals and universities are in the south, as is the Institute of Technology. It is the gateway to the broader south-west region. We are completely dependent on the tunnel for traversing from north to south,” he said.
With more than 87,000 people using the south link road every day, Mr Kelleher said that it is at capacity, and pressure needs to taken off of the southside.
“All of the Minister’s eggs are in one basket. If we are to be brave and visionary, we need to accept that a north ring road needs to be developed to link the Dublin Road to the Poulavone area of Ballincollig. This is an essential infrastructural requirement for the greater good of the region and for the more balanced development of Cork city,” he said.
Mr Ross reiterated the Government’s position: that the northern ring road will be considered in the context of the Cork-Limerick motorway.
“The national development plan makes it clear that the Cork local authorities, in partnership with the National Transport Authority and Transport Infrastructure Ireland, are finalising a Cork metropolitan area transport strategy. The national development plan includes a number of commitments in respect of transport in Cork.
“It is expected to identify the need for schemes such as the Cork north ring road, as well as the possible timelines for such schemes. This project is not off the agenda. As the Deputy can see, it is being considered. There is a reference to it in the national development plan, which says it will be examined. I am not sure that the Deputy can ask for much more than that,” he said.