Plans are being advanced for the creation of a €200m motorway joining Ringaskiddy in east Cork with the Jack Lynch Tunnel, because the EU designated the project as vital infrastructure.
The National Roads Authority and Cork County Council yesterday confirmed they hoped to appoint consultants shortly for the design project and expected to submit finalised plans for the 14km road to Bord Pleanála within 12 to 18 months.
The EU’s Trans-European Transport Networks organisation, which prioritises the development of road, rail, air, and water transport networks in Europe, has indicated that an upgrade of the road between Ringaskiddy port and the tunnel is vital for the economic well-being of the southern region
“This is an important designation and allows us to go forward with the design process and submit an application for approval with Bord Pleanála,” said NRA spokesman Sean O’Neill. “It is a significant value project which will cost between €150m and €200m.”
The news was welcomed by Port of Cork chief executive Brendan Keating, especially as his company’s plans for expansion of services in Ringaskiddy have been hampered by an inadequate local roads network.
The last time the Port of Cork submitted plans for extending its deep-water cargo-handling facilities in Ringaskiddy, it was shot down by Bord Pleanála because it ruled the N28 and the Jack Lynch Tunnel/Dunkettle interchange were inadequate to deal with the large volume of HGVs the project would generate.
The NRA has already designed plans for a major upgrade of the tunnel interchange.
Mr Keating said the port authorities “were absolutely thrilled” that the missing piece of the jigsaw was now coming together.
“This also follows on the work of Transport Minister Leo Varadkar, who designated the Port of Cork, Dublin, and Shannon/Foynes port as key drivers necessary for leading the country’s economy for the next 20 years,” said Mr Keating. “The Government has also endorsed the new port infrastructure needed for Ringaskiddy.”
He said the company had deliberately held back on resubmitting a planning application to Bord Pleanála because of the uncertainty surrounding the road network.
However, he said that, in light of the new developments, it would probably now do so in late March or early April.
Mr Keating said the Port of Cork’s upgrading plans at Ringaskiddy could cost up to €60m.
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