Plans for €300m Cork tunnel bypass

PLANS for a €300 million tunnel, up to five kilometres long, are to be lodged with the National Roads Authority as part of the proposed northern ring road around Cork city.

The tunnel would form part of a €500m route connecting the Poulavone Roundabout on the Ballincollig Bypass, and the main Cork-Dublin road north of Glanmire.

Cork County engineer Ned Flynn said yesterday the massive project could probably be completed under a Private Public Partnership (PPP). This would mean the road would be tolled.

He said the tunnel, while not cheap, would be the ideal option as there was a sharp rise in the height of the land from Leemount Cross towards Kerry Pike.

“There is a steep escarpment and it is also a very environmentally-sensitive area. We are concerned about the impacts (of a through road)”, Mr Flynn said. He said three options for the dual carriageway would probably be made public before the end of this year, and depending on which route was chosen, the tunnel would be 2.5-5km long.

The Jack Lynch Tunnel is just over 600 metres long.

“The tunnel would be the most attractive option,” the county engineer said. The next round of structural funding won’t be announced until 2009, so Mr Flynn said the speediest way of getting the job done would be through a PPP.

The project is likely to be done in two, or possibly three stages. “The whole lot could be completed in three to four years,” Mr Flynn said. It’s proposed the new highway would link up with the Cork-Mallow road in the Killeens area and connect with the Cork- Dublin road at Sarsfield’s Court, a couple of miles north of Glanmire.

Once completed it is estimated it will cater for at least 25,000 vehicles a day.

The county engineer made his comments yesterday after a number of angry public representatives queried why it was taking the NRA so long to publish its three-route options.

Cllr Gerry Kelly (FG), claimed they were promised the three route corridors would be identified by 2003 and he had heard they wouldn’t be published until next year. “It’s impacting on planning and just not good enough,” Cllr Kelly said.

Cllr Tomás Ryan (FG) said the delay was stifling growth in the area, while Cllr Dan Fleming (FF), who is an auctioneer, said he knew of one major development which was on hold because publication of the plans had been delayed.

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