WITH the preferred route option for the Cork to Limerick motorway expected to be selected later this year, those working on the M20 project have said that active travel will be at the forefront of the development.
The N/M20 Cork to Limerick Project has the potential to deliver 80km of “transformative” active travel, which would include walking and cycling infrastructure.
The active travel route also aims to connect communities along the corridor, with the goal of enabling the possibility for people to cycle the entire journey from Cork to Limerick.
Currently, the M20 project is at Stage 2, with the preferred route option due to be selected in September or October of this year.
Barry Transportation and its project partners Sweco and WSP (BSW) were appointed as technical advisors to progress the planning and design for the scheme.
Tara O’Leary, a technical director from Sweco, works for the technical advisor team on the project.
Speaking to The Echo, Ms O’Leary said that the public consultation process showed what people in the area are looking for in terms of active travel.
“It showed that there is a real desire for people to have more rural paths, more paths between the towns and, I suppose, they also identified currently the barriers that they are experiencing around safety and the lack of suitable paths,” she said.
Ms O’Leary said that the aim is to create an active travel route that will be included no matter which route option is selected, describing it as “a key part of the project”.
“Whatever the solution is… active travel is going to be a part of the solution, no matter what the final option is around the road network.”
The aim is to create a “segregated active travel route which would include walking and cycling”, with the potential to commute between Cork and Limerick.
“These are the second and third-largest cities in Ireland, Cork and Limerick,” she said. “Obviously, we know Ireland 2040 has big plans to grow these cities, and we just want to ensure that we’ve got an appropriate corridor that caters to all modes of transport between them and that the towns and communities along these routes can benefit from it.”
The active travel route will also connect communities and towns along the route, including Mallow, Charleville, and Buttevant, she said.
“This can really help boost local economies, boost tourism, improve the health and air quality, have the potential to reduce congestion, and help save people money,” said Ms O’Leary.
The team is liaising with active travel groups in the area, including Transport Mobility Forum Cork.
Speaking on the importance of connecting Cork and Limerick, Ms O’Leary said: “This project opens up the opportunities to link these cities more efficiently, and with the aim of linking Cork, Limerick, and Galway and creating that kind of counterbalance to Dublin along the West Coast and making the most of our regional cities.
“This project could enable a real transformative active-travel corridor to be developed here and really benefit the communities on it.”