CORK County Council officials have said they are not aware of any plans to place tolls on approaches to the Dunkettle Interchange if sections of road are upgraded to motorway status.
A €100m redevelopment of the busiest road junction in the country outside of Dublin is currently ongoing.
The busy interchange carries approximately 80,000 to 100,000 cars a day and connects with the M8 to Dublin, N25 to Waterford as well as the Lower Glanmire Road and N40 South Ring. The existing interchange is presently operating significantly above capacity and suffering from severe traffic congestion at peak periods.
Large queues are common on approaches to the notorious bottleneck, in particular extending back through the Jack Lynch Tunnel for traffic travelling north and along the N25 at peak periods.
Traffic travelling from the east and north heading south through the tunnel similarly experiences long delays during peak periods.
This N8 scheme involves the €100 million upgrade of the existing Dunkettle Interchange — which is currently traffic signal controlled for most vehicle movements.
The interchange, when upgraded, will be free flow in most directions with a series of new slip roads and will not require vehicles to stop or give way as they negotiate the interchange.
After County Hall roads director Tom Stritch delivered an update on the project’s progress, councillor Des O’Grady (SF) asked if tolling was a possibility on sections of the road.
“Maybe they are looking at putting a toll on the tunnel. If you upgrade to a motorway then you can put a toll on it,” asked Mr O’Grady.
However, Mr Stritch replied: “Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) have asked us to get a motorway reclassification study done in relation to the N40 South Ring Road and what things would need to be done there if it was reclassified. The possibility of tolling hasn’t arisen in anything I have heard in relation to that.
“There is also an intelligent transport system being installed both in Dunkettle and on the entire length on the N40 and the various roads coming into the N40 such as the Airport Road and the N71,” he added.
Mr Stritch said Jacobs engineering are the technical advisors for the project and SISK has been appointed as the contractors for the main contract.
“Land acquisition is ongoing and there is a site clearance contract underway still. Part 8 planning is moving its way to full council,” he said.
“In relation to ducting along the N40 and the various approaches to Dunkettle — the contract is about to take place for that and that will ultimately be just to have an intelligent transportation system on the approaches.
“In relation to the main contract is it expected there will be a 12-months design period before the serious work which will interfere with traffic and require traffic diversions.
“There is a traffic management steering committee working on an ongoing basis,” Mr Stritch added.