The government has been criticised for putting a vital bypass on the long finger again, a move which has angered some Cork county councillors and disappointed their most senior roads engineer.
A meeting of the council's Northern Division was told that just €300,000 had been set aside this year to progress the design of the northern relief road in Mallow and fears have been raised that it could now be 2027 before its construction is completed.
A few years ago the council, together with the local chamber of commerce, put forward a detailed business case for the project, pointing out that Mallow was already choked with traffic and would come to a standstill if nothing was done soon to divert traffic away from its town centre.
Cllr Timmy Collins reacted angrily when he was told that there was only enough money allocated this year to progress the design of the road and prepare an Environmental Impact Statement.
Aidan Weir, head of the county council's roads directorate, said council officials were also “disappointed” that the project didn't seem to be progressing to construction any time in the near future.
The lack of progress was also criticised by Cllrs Gearoid Murphy and Melissa Mullane, the latter saying that construction of the road was first sought in 1997.
The route for the proposed bypass predominantly follows the old railway alignment from the town's Beecher Street roundabout to Ballyvintner Bridge and joins up with the N72 and N73 at Ballyvorisheen, on the eastern side of Mallow near Oliver's Cross.
Mr Weir said the relief road could be built as a standalone project or in conjunction with the construction of the M20 (Cork-Limerick motorway).
Cllr Ian Doyle sought a timeframe for the motorway's construction.
Assistant county manager James Fogarty read a letter from TII (Transport Infrastructure Ireland) which did not provide a timeframe.
While an announcement on the successful tender for the construction of the M20 has been described as imminent, Mr Weir said it was his understanding the motorway wouldn't be completed until at least 2027.
He said the Mallow bypass could be built as “standalone project or dovetail into the M20 project".
He said the motorway was a huge scheme and the “jury was out” on whether it would be built in sections or in one fell swoop.
Cllr Melissa Mullane said as Limerick city and county council were now in charge of progressing the motorway's design, Cork County Council was “left in no man's land”. Cllr Murphy said he was “alarmed” to learn the two projects could now be run in tandem, which would therefore seriously delay the opening of the much-needed relief road.
He proposed, and got unanimous support, that the council write to the Department of Environment/TII expressing their view that Mallow bypass had to progress as a single project and be completed before the M20.