Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe has defended the shelving of the proposed M20 motorway between Cork and Limerick, insisting the proposed project was too expensive.
In an interview with the Irish Examiner, Mr Donohoe said he took the decision to park the motorway plan in preference of smaller “targeted” projects.
“This is a €1bn project. If you look at the sum total of all the projects I have announced that were targeted, the sum total of all of them is less than the total cost of that single road,” he said.
“As things stand, I had to make a choice because of the cost of the project and because of how we can spend scarce additional resources.”
Mr Donohoe and the Government’s decision to defer the project has been severely criticised by Renua Ireland leader Lucinda Creighton, who accused them of a “lack of ambition”.
However, Mr Donohoe rejected her criticisms, saying he had a choice to make given the cost of the road.
“That is why we had to make choices as to what we could do,” he said. “What I would say in relation to the Cork-Limerick road, because I am well aware of its importance, it is a road that will join up two of our biggest cities.
“What we have to do is keep the recovery going. Essential to that is how we rebuild our transport infrastructure, but we have to do it in a way that allows our finances to recover.”
Mr Donohoe said that, should the country’s finances allow it, the mid-term review of the Government’s Capital Plan in 2017 could see provision to begin the work on the motorway.
“There will be an opportunity to review the Capital Plan midway through the life of the Government and if we find ourselves in a position that the economy is recovering and generating further proceeds, then we would have to look at projects like that and see if they can be moved forward,” said Mr Donohoe.
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