THE decision on the preferred option for the proposed Cork to Limerick motorway has been delayed until the first quarter of 2022.
The N/M20 Cork-to-Limerick Road Improvement Scheme is a key element in Project Ireland 2040. A number of road-and-rail options have been shortlisted to improve the connection between the two counties.
The preferred option was due to be announced this month, after initially being delayed due to the consultation process being extended by four weeks.
“This extension and the additional time to review and consider over 2,000 submissions received resulted in a revised date for the public display of the preferred option during Q4 2021,” a spokesperson for the project said.
However, government policy updates on sustainable transport infrastructure are being implemented this year, resulting in additional modelling and appraisal work as part of identifying the preferred option.
The spokesperson said: “These changes are necessary and have been incorporated to avoid potential future delays in the development of the project. As a result of this additional work, the preferred option for the N/M20 Cork to Limerick Project will be announced as part of a public display during Q1 2022.”
They added: “The project team are conscious the impacts of such a delay has on the public and businesses and would ask for their patience. Further details regarding upcoming public displays will be published in advance.”
The proposed Cork to Limerick motorway remains a contentious issue for residents living along the scheme’s route corridor.
Whitechurch Residents Association spokesperson, Dee Hosford said the delay “has left so many people in limbo”.
“They are playing with people’s lives and livelihoods,” said Ms Hosford, a member of the Whitechurch Residents Association who have mobilised in opposition to the navy route.
“People don’t know whether their houses are going to be under Compulsory Purchase Order or how their farms and businesses will be impacted upon. It is a complete disregard for the people who are involved in this,” she added.
Ms Hosford said the views of the people in their community have not changed. They want the road to be ‘upgraded’.
Cork TD Thomas Gould said the news of the delay was disappointing.
“For those driving the road regularly, there is no light at the end of the tunnel to improve safety issues.
“There have been a number of deaths on the current road and any delay, especially on the most dangerous sections, can’t be accepted. There has been talk about the M20 for over a decade. People are feeling angry and upset.
“The Government needs to intervene now and instruct the M20 team to make their announcement and begin work on the chosen option. People need clarity. Dragging their heels and avoiding making a decision helps no one,” he added.