Mayor calls to upgrade main West Cork route to national status

The main transportation and industrial corridor through West Cork is served only by a regional road.

Mayor Declan Hurley

But the mayor of Cork county is leading a fresh charge to seek an upgrade of the R586 between key towns, Bandon and Bantry, to national route status. 

The road is the primary route to the country’s biggest white-fish port in Castletownbere.

It is also the most direct route to Whiddy Island Oil Terminal which, in the event of a fuel crisis, holds the national strategic oil reserves. 

And the regional road also services large-scale food processing plants, such as Carbery whose products include Dubliner cheeses.

Currently, the region’s sole national artery, the N71, also services Bandon and Bantry but hugs the coastline through Clonakilty, Skibbereen, and Ballydehob and is not HGV-friendly, adding more than 20km to a single journey.

Mayor Cllr Declan Hurley said tourist haven West Cork was “in need and deserving of a high-quality direct route for the transport of goods and people both to and from the hub of Cork City and onwards into the national motorway network”.

The mayor said the reclassification of the R586 to national status would “provide a single route of preference” for much of the heavy goods and tourist traffic through West Cork. 

Currently, stretches of the road are restricted to 80km/h due to its regional status.

Mayor Hurley said the upgrade demand was an “old chestnut” but he told the West Cork Municipal District body that reclassification would, potentially, further economic and tourism development along the transport corridor. 

He noted many HGVs, servicing the Beara peninsula port and also Bantry town, were using an alternative route, the N22/R585, on the Macroom side of Cork City, to access West Cork.

The municipal district body, meanwhile, will seek the support of the full council to press the roads authority Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) on the issue.

Cllr Paul Hayes, however, said previous deputations to Minister Shane Ross and the TII strongly pointed to “no joined-up thinking” by the State’s agencies on improving infrastructure, generally.

He said food companies such as Carbery and the fishing industry were making huge financial investments in their industries but the public infrastructure, to match, was appalling.

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