Plans for a motorway linking Cork and Limerick took a step closer today with the signing of a contract for the route’s design stage.
The project - the first under the government’s €116bn Ireland 2040 infrastructural plan - has yet to go to tender for construction.
The road linking both cities will be the largest infrastructure project outside of Dublin.
The Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, who was present at City Hall, Limerick, for the contract signing described the project as the “biggest single road contract for the next decade”.
Limerick City and County Council, the lead authority for the project, announced it had appointed Barry Transportation, and its project partners WSP and Sweco, as Technical Advisors to progress the scheme up to the stage where it will be submitted for planning.
Other partners include Cork County Council, Cork City Council, Tipperary County Council, the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport and Transport Infrastructure Ireland.
Project Ireland 2040 aims to provide better connectivity between the two cities by improving the quality of the transport network as well as addressing road safety issues associated with the existing N20 route.
Cork and Limerick are approximately 100 km apart, yet at present the economic interaction and inter-relationships between the cities is limited with poor transport connectivity being a factor, Limerick’s local authority said.
Planning and design for the road will commence this month, with Barry Transportation, WSP and Sweco, providing all engineering, environmental, economic and appraisal services required to deliver the project through these planning and design phases.
As part of these phases there will be extensive public consultation taking place.
Mayor of Limerick, Cllr James Collins said the M20 project “is critical for the economic development of Limerick and the wider region along the Atlantic Corridor”.
It will also improve links with Galway and the Western seaboard.
“It will save lives and improve the quality of life for those who rely on this transport corridor for business, work, study and tourism,” Collins said.
Conn Murray, Chief Executive of Limerick City and County Council agreed the plan would be “a major enabler for balanced regional development by substantially delivering the Atlantic Corridor, with a high quality road network linking Limerick, Cork and Galway”.
“Limerick City and County Council welcomes the appointment of the Technical Advisors. Together with our partners in the local authorities in Cork and Tipperary, the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport and Transport Infrastructure Ireland, we are committed to delivering this major national infrastructural project,” Murray added.
Michael Nolan, Chief Executive Officer of Transport Infrastructure Ireland said it was “committed to delivering the project which is a priority for the Project Ireland 2040”.
Liam Prendiville, Managing Director at Barry Transportation said:
“We are delighted to be working with Limerick City and County Council on the planning process for this vital arterial route, which will improve journey times and journey time reliability between Cork and Limerick”.