THE National Roads Authority (NRA) has confirmed it is preparing a major plan to ease gridlock on Cork’s two busiest junctions and plans to present its proposals to An Bord Pleanála by summer 2012.
An NRA spokesman said yesterday that Jacobs Consultants have been appointed to look at improving traffic flow at the Jack Lunch Tunnel and Dunkettle roundabout junctions.
The spokesman also confirmed that as part of the project land would be set aside for a park and ride railway station in the general North Esk area, close to the former Ibis Hotel. The NRA previously blocked a move by Cork County Council and Iarnród Éireann to build a park and ride railway station at North Esk.
It caused outrage at the time, but the NRA explained that a site earmarked might have to be used by it for the expansion of the Jack Lynch Tunnel interchange.
The NRA also stated that there were plenty of other alternative sites available to the local authority and Iarnród Éireann in the general North Esk area.
Iarnród Éireann has an extensive cargo handling facility a short distance from the former Ibis Hotel.
Business leaders, including the regional head of the Construction Industry Federation (CIF), have criticised the NRA in recent times because it had objected to a number of major projects in Cork on the grounds that the major interchanges needed upgrading to cope with the impact generated by such developments.
The Port of Cork’s plans for a new container terminal in Ringaskiddy were rejected by Bord Pleanála, in part because the NRA maintained the additional volume of HGVs generated by such a move would impact on traffic flow through the Jack Lynch Tunnel.
The NRA also successfully objected to O’Flynn Construction’s plans for a €400 million housing development on the grounds of Dunkettle House. It said that the development of more than 1,200 houses in the area would create problems on the already congested slip road to the north of the tunnel by the Ibis Hotel.
Bord Pleanála decided that it would be ‘premature’ to develop the land and that roads in the area needed to be upgraded to cope with the additional traffic.
“The consultants we have appointed will look at improving traffic flow around the two major junctions and will come up with a plan which will hopefully dramatically improve flow and address future demands,” the NRA spokesman said.
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