A MOTORWAY connection to Buttevant could cost as little as €1 million and would lead to fewer accidents on a series of lethal bends which have claimed 40% of all fatalities on the main road between Cork and Limerick.
That was the assertion of people living in the north Cork town when they put forward their case yesterday for a connection to the proposed €800m M20 motorway to link the cities.
Day four of a Bord Pleanála oral hearing heard representatives of Buttevant Community Council argue safety was one of a number of considerations which should warrant the town getting the link.
The NRA claimed traffic volumes in the area did not warrant a connection, meaning Buttevant would be the only town on the 80km route which would not have direct connectivity with the motorway.
Buttevant-based solicitor Matt Nagle told Bord Pleanála inspector Danny O’Connor the worst stretch of the N20 for fatal accidents was on a series of bends south of the town.
Mr Nagle was told by NRA representatives it would cost up to €5m to build the connection. He argued, however, that the community council’s consultants believed it could be built for between €1m and €2m. “Either way, it’s still peanuts compared to the overall cost of the project,” Mr Nagle said.
He said that throughout the proposed route there were motorway junctions on average every 8.9km. However, there was no junction planned between Mallow and Charleville, a distance of 20.5km, and this put the people of Buttevant, who were living in the middle, at a severe disadvantage.
“There have been numerous designs over the years for a new road between Cork and Limerick but this is the first one with no connection for Buttevant,” Mr Nagle said.
He argued the NRA had failed to take into account the Cork County Development Plan which had zoned land for industrial and residential growth in the town.
Tom Halley of McCutcheon Mulcahy chartered planning consultants, acting on behalf of Buttevant Community Council, said it was calculated every fatal accident cost the state around €1 million.
He maintained a motorway connection would reduce fatalities on the existing road particularly around Ballybeg and between Mallow and Charleville.
There were 13 fatal accidents on the Mallow and Charleville stretch between 1990 and 2006.
Mr Halley also argued that motorists living in villages close to Buttevant, such as Doneraile, Liscarroll and Churchtown, would be forced to rely on the N20, creating needless traffic congestion in Mallow and Charleville at peak hours because they wouldn’t be able to come off the motorway any nearer their homes.
Mr Halley said under the County Development Plan, the population of Buttevant was projected to increase by 64% to 1,501 in 2020, which warranted better infrastructure.
He said the same plan had been put in place to reverse a population decline of 7.4% witnessed in the town between 1981 and 2006, while most other towns in the county had seen their population increase significantly during that period.
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