Improving the existing N20 Cork to Limerick road should be an “immediate priority” for government as part of a wider effort to improve transport links across the island of Ireland.
The project is highlighted as one of the most pressing transport needs in an all-island report compiled by business representative body Ibec and its Northern equivalent, the Confederation of British Industries (CBI).
The business groups said that investment is urgently needed to support exports, job creation, and business development in the wake of the Brexit vote and as the population of the island increases over the coming years.
“This report outlines investment proposals for strategic infrastructure to enhance all-island connectivity.
"The result will be a much-improved transport backbone that measurably improves everyday life and boosts economic activity, investment and employment across the island of Ireland.
"Continuing to focus on delivering these needs is especially important given current uncertainties,” said Ibec Director of International Affairs, Mary Rose Burke.
Other immediate priorities include completing routes already in development such as A5 and A6 upgrades to Derry and the north west generally, as well as the M1/A1 Sprucefield bypass to better link Dublin and Belfast.
Increasing the capacity of the M50 and the N15 linking of Letterkenny to Sligo are also deemed urgent priorities.
Ibec and CBI said completion of these projects would support business, improve competitiveness and encourage tourism.
The business groups described the upgrades as “affordable” but added that all financing options, including European Investment Bank and European Commission funding should be explored.
Meanwhile, the Bank of Ireland Economic Pulse survey showed a significant dip in both consumer and business sentiment since the UK’s decision to leave the EU as the index fell to its lowest reading this year at 91.2.
“Our business pulse fell sharply in July with near-term prospects being downgraded,” Bank of Ireland group chief economist Loretta O’Sullivan said.
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