More than 250 people, who packed day one of the hearing at the Charleville Park Hotel yesterday, heard Eileen McCarthy, associate director of Arup consulting engineers, say between 1996 and 2007 a total of 35 people had died as a result of crashes on the main road between Cork and Limerick (N20).
In addition, she said there had been 85 serious and 369 minor injuries following accidents on that road during the same period.
Ms McCarthy said the N20 was running over capacity and if a motorway wasn’t built it would become increasingly congested in the years to come, causing longer journey times between the two cities.
Around 20,000 vehicles a day pass between Cork and Mallow. The figure drops to 12,000 between Buttevant and Charleville, but rises again to 14,000 between Croom and Limerick.
“The motorway scheme will result in the saving of an estimated 70 lives over the 30 years from year of opening,” Ms McCarthy said.
Bord Pleanála inspector Danny O’Connor heard Ms McCarthy state that the average journey between Blarney and Attyflin, near Patrickswell, was 61 minutes but if the motorway was in place this would be cut to just 44 minutes.
“The strategic importance of a high quality Cork to Limerick link cannot be overstated. This is fundamental to the concept of balanced regional development as it brings markets closer together, thus strengthening the competitive environment of the mid-west and south-west regions, whilst improving road linkage between Ireland’s second and third largest cities,” Ms McCarthy said.
Around 292 objections and submissions have been received by Bord Pleanála to the project.
The National Roads Authority requires a total of 905 hectares (2,236 acres) of land to build the motorway. Of that 674 hectares is agricultural land.
The land will have to be acquired by compulsory purchase orders under the motorway order.
The oral hearing was also told that 16 residential properties, one commercial property and another property which doubles as a residential/commercial property would have to be acquired for the scheme to proceed.
All but three of the properties will have to be demolished to make way for the 80km-long road.
Meanwhile, a further 34 residential and 10 commercial properties will have their road access and/or site boundaries permanently changed as a result of the project.
A liaison officer will be appointed by Cork County Council and Limerick County Council to liaise with landowners, householders and the public while the motorway is being constructed.
Rock blasting will be required on some sections of the road and it will be carried out by a specialist contractor. In order to minimise the impact of blasting, which will take place during daylight only, a public awareness campaign will be undertaken before that work commences.
Mervyn Keegan, of WYG Environmental & Planning consultants, said mitigation procedures would be put in place during construction to keep noise levels to a minimum. He added about 1,700 households in Mallow, Newtwopothouse, Buttevant and Charleville would experience reduced traffic noise once the new motorway is built.
The hearing will continue today and adjourn until Monday next.