Because of plans to increase investment in national infrastructure by €500m each year, between 2019 and 2021, the M20 motorway, between Cork and Limerick, is a step closer to happening, the two city’s business leaders said last night.
However, the Construction Industry Federation (CIF) warned that delaying the planned increases until 2019 could consign many of Ireland’s regions to a decade of lost growth, with Dublin continuing to be congested.
It follows the publication yesterday, by Finance Minister Paschal Donohue, of the Government’s summer economic statement. There will be a €1.2bn fiscal space next year, with a commitment to increase capital investment by an additional €500m in each of the years from 2019 to 2021.
While Mr Donohue did not mention specific projects, he said investment in public infrastructure was essential to support balanced, regional growth and increase the capacity of the economy over the long-run.
“Alignment of investment and planning is the key to strategically influence future development patterns and achieve major public interest and policy goals,” he said.
Cork and Limerick Chambers, jointly spearheading a campaign to secure the development of the M20, welcomed the spending increase.
“The M20 would not just connect the country’s second and third cities by motorway, but would also link in with the Galway-to-Limerick motorway and, therefore, be a game-changer for the Atlantic seaboard,” said Cork Chamber CEO, Conor Healy.
Limerick Chamber CEO, James Ring, said the fact that Minister Donohoe spoke of the additional funding being made available for economic and social infrastructure is promising. The M20 ticks both boxes emphatically.
On Tuesday, the two chambers published a report which shows that building the M20 has the potential to support 5,400 additional direct jobs; would increase the labour force within a 45-minute commute of major employment centres by 23%; would cut journey times between the two cities by 16 minutes, and would prevent 118 accidents every year.
“If you were to look at the greatest strategic need the country has, it is to balance the national economy, and no other project will impact positively in that regard like the M20,” Mr Ring said.
But CIF director general, Tom Parlon, called for any increased spending to be spent sooner rather than later. “If it’s a good idea to invest in 2019 to improve the economy and address the housing issue, lack of broadband and creaking road and rail infrastructure, why not start today,” he said.
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