The motorway will run from the Bloomfield interchange, on the South Ring Road, joining up with a new interchange at Shannon Park, near Carrigaline, before bypassing Shanbally.
It will also bypass Ringaskiddy village and link directly with the eastern side of the Port of Cork’s container terminal.
NRA project manager Tony Mullane said it is hoped to publish a motorway order for the 12km route and an environmental impact statement by March.
“That will then be followed by a Bord Pleanála oral hearing and all going according to plan it could start construction in 2017,” said Mr Mullane.
“It would take about two years to complete.”
He said while there was no government funding in place, he was hopeful that such funds will be forthcoming “because the road is of such strategic national importance”.
More than 26,000 vehicles use the current N28 daily, many of them HGVs.
No major expansion of industrial output in the Ringaskiddy area can take place without a major upgrade of roads leading out of it. Mr Mullane said a planned €90m upgrade of the Jack Lynch Tunnel/ Dunkettle interchange would have to be completed before the Ringaskiddy motorway is opened.
“We have already got planning permission for the tunnel interchange, which is the busiest junction outside of Dublin and that’s also of strategic national importance,” said Mr Mullane.
Plans for the Cork- Ringaskiddy motorway were put on hold in 2009, but last year then Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar ordered the NRA to progress the project, as he also saw its importance to the economy.
The Port of Cork has welcomed news of the preferred route selection, which was announced at Carrigaline Court Hotel yesterday. At a Bord Pleanála oral hearing last September on the port’s plans for an €80m extension of its Ringaskiddy terminal, NRA officials were unable to give any timeline for the motorway project.
Port of Cork chief executive Brendan Keating said he is hopeful his company will shortly get the green light from Bord Pleanála for the three-phase development. The board has already indicated that two of the planned phases — constructing two new piers of 300m and 200m — can go ahead before the motorway is opened. This is because the Port of Cork has indicated it will restrict hauliers to bringing and removing containers to off-peak hours only.
However, the port will not be able to extend its deepwater berth at its bulk terminal until the motorway is open.
“We welcome the publication of this report as it will provide appropriate hinterland connectivity,” said Mr Keating.
“The existing N28 is grossly inadequate and presents serious safety concerns given the huge volume of traffic using it on a daily basis,” said Fianna Fáil councillor Seamus McGrath said.