An Bord Pleanála has given the green light to National Roads Authority (NRA) plans for a €100m upgrade of the Jack Lynch Tunnel/Dunkettle interchange.
The board voted by a three-to-one majority to approve the scheme, at one of the country’s busiest junctions.
It also approved the issuing of Compulsory Purchase Orders (CPOs) which are required as the NRA needs to acquire land to construct some elevated new slip roads.
More than 90,000 daily vehicle movements have been recorded at the junction.
An Bord Pleanála agreed with an NRA submission that an upgrade was needed to alleviate the level of congestion currently being experienced at the junction during peak times.
Despite some objections, the board felt the proposed development would not be likely to have any significant adverse effects on the environment.
The board, however, imposed a number of conditions.
They include a proviso the NRA carry out a number of mitigation measures to ensure no adverse impact on flora and fauna in the area.
Automatic traffic counters will also have to be installed in the area and the NRA will be required to carry out a review of traffic flow at the planned upgraded junction every two years.
Plans for a proposed cycle path on a section of the upgraded junction have been refused because the board considered it could contribute to accidents.
An oral hearing took place at the Silver Springs Moran Hotel over two days last December.
At the hearing, the NRA’s team of experts argued congestion was costing the State and the upgrade would save commuters a significant amount of time.
The plan involves creating a number of dedicated local access roads around the junction, thus separating those making local journeys from regional and national journeys.
The signalised roundabout at the northern end of the tunnel will be removed for total free flow and a dedicated slip road will be built on the city side of the tunnel so traffic can directly access the northbound lanes of the M8.
NRA spokesman Sean O’Neill said he welcomed the Bord Pleanála decision.
“We would like to move forward on the scheme but it is subject to funding being made available. It will cost in the region of €100m,” he said.
The decision is also likely to be welcomed by the Port of Cork which was refused planning permission by An Bord Pleanála for a major new cargo-handling terminal in Ringaskiddy. The main reason for the refusal was the increased HGV traffic this would generate would have further impacted on tunnel congestion.
The port authority, meanwhile, is about to resubmit planning for a scaled-down terminal in Ringaskiddy.
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