Confusion over plan to upgrade major road

A MAJOR inter-city road upgrade has been caught up in a web of bureaucratic confusion.

The National Roads Authority (NRA), in conjunction with local authorities, had planned to develop the N20 between Limerick and Cork to motorway standard.

The NRA, however, said the project is being deferred due to lack of money. But the lead local authority, Cork Co Council, insists the scheme is still on track.

The NRA’s head of communications, Sean O’Neill, said the N20 projects had been “re-prioritised” due to lower traffic volumes compared to other schemes also awaiting funding and the N20 scheme was being deferred to an unspecified date.

But in an update on the project, Cork County Council said it is still hoped to publish the motorway order and associated documentation in the weeks ahead.

The update continues: “A public enquiry of the scheme would then be heard in the early months of 2010. Subject to statutory procedures and availability of funding, construction work on the scheme could get under way in 2011.”

Mr O’Neill said Cork County Council would be proceeding with all statutory regulations but said it was the prioritising of two other planned national road schemes that has led to the deferment of the N20 project.

An NRA news letter last June said that a review of the planned national road scheme improvements identified the N11 Arklow-Rathnew, Newlands Cross upgrade and the Galway city outer bypass as priority schemes. The NRA indicated it was intended to deliver those schemes through public private partnership (PPP) arrangements.

The newsletter added: “The consequence of introducing these two additional schemes has resulted in the second PPP roads programme being redefined with the result that the procurement of the N20 Limerick to Cork schemes will be deferred to a later date.”

However, Michael Noonan, TD said yesterday: “The postponement of the motorway between Limerick and Cork will be a long deferral and will not happen in the next few years.”

Any hold-ups, he said, would lead to a huge loss in the Limerick and Cork economies.


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