The Northern Ring Road, which is an infrastructural necessity if Cork is to experience further economic growth, is being designed to connect the Glanmire bypass with roads leading to West and south-west Cork, and will thus complete a route around the city.
Last year, a number of colour-coordinated routes were chosen by the design team, but alterations have since been made.
These can be seen where the roads are ringed with red on the yellow and green routes. These alterations are quite minor. Basically they are just reshaping the path of the road. However, the major change is with the addition of a red route.
This new corridor (running north from the blue route at D) will cross the Carrigrohane Road and run along the route of the gas pipeline towards Kerry Pike, and it includes a tunnel.
There are now four possible tunnels contained within the proposals, making it virtually certain that one will be have to be built.
It is expected that any tunnel will cost in excess of €200 million and, at 1km long, will be the largest tunnel ever constructed in this country.
The reason so many tunnels are contained in the proposal is due to the environmentally sensitive area from the banks of the River Lee north to Clogheen and Kerry Pike.
Sources close to the project believe the preferred route, which has to be chosen by June, will take in the majority of the yellow corridor. This will run from just north of the Glanmire bypass across to slightly south of Killard (F) where it will join the red route, and then (at D) hook up with the blue route taking the road down to the Poulavone roundabout.
From there, traffic will be able to access the roads to Macroom and Bandon with relative ease.
Further public consultations will be held tonight and tomorrow night because of the alterations and because more than 100 submissions were received from members of the public.
“There were a lot of objections from people in Clogheen, Kerry Pike and Carrigrohane because they felt that the road would intrude into the valley and spoil its picturesque nature. They also felt the road was running too close to the villages of Kerry Pike and Clogheen,” Deputy Noel O’Flynn (FF) said.
“The blue route coming up over Kerry Pike caused all sorts of problems. It would, according to residents, be very intrusive.”
Mr O’Flynn said he hoped any problems still existing could be ironed out quickly.
“We can’t afford to delay because for the greater good of Cork we have to have a northern ring route. Only then will the battle to get funding will begin,” he said.
Because the National Roads Authority (NRA) has already decided on its national programme up to 2010, there is no way funding will come before then.