The Government is due to announce a strategic roads investment programme in the next six weeks and political pressure is mounting to get the proposed Macroom bypass included.
Planning permission has been granted by Bord Pleanála for the 43km road, which would run from Ballyvourney to Ovens.
Forty-one people have died on the stretch, since 1990, with a further 61 being seriously injured, according to the Department of Justice.
Earlier this week, the National Roads Authority (NRA) had a two-hour meeting with a delegation from Kerry County Council, led by its chairman, Fianna Fáil councillor John Brassil and chief executive Moira Murrell, on roads’ issues.
Mr Brassil said while the NRA was “not promising anything it could not promise’’, the NRA was making a strong case to have the Macroom bypass included in the new programme.
‘’The Adare bypass, in Co Limerick, is not as far advanced as the Macroom bypass, which is shovel-ready and has been through the planning and route selection process. We cannot over-emphasise the urgency of getting work on the Macroom bypass underway,’’ he said.
Phase one of the project, from Ballyvourney to the Cork side of Macroom, has been costed at €160m. The Government previously said the bypass may be provided via a public/private partnership, as has happened on other national routes.
A shortage of funds has hampered progress on some major planned roadworks, with the NRA’s capital budget slashed by 80% since 2007, said Mr Brassil.
Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe recently acknowledged representations by Fine Gael deputies Brendan Griffin and Michael Creed on the Macroom bypass. While the project was affected by the country’s financial circumstances, the minister said things were beginning to change and, at some point in the future, they would be able to progress such projects.
Mr Donohoe said he had travelled the N22 privately and was aware of the ‘’acute need’’ for the bypass. He had allocated €5m to the NRA to continue with land acquisition.
‘’There is limited funding available to advance such projects, but this is the kind of project I want to see,’’ he told Mr Griffin in the Dáil.
Mr Griffin said the economic benefits of improving the N22 would be far-reaching for both counties.