Cork Chamber officials are due to meet the minister today following his visit to Cork Airport at lunchtime, where Aer Lingus is expected to confirm a new Cork to Dusseldorf service and announce increased capacity on other routes.
They will urge him to prioritise the road upgrade project and back their calls with a report which shows upgrading the road to the port — which is earmarked for massive expansion and which will be part-funded by the EU — would deliver an estimated €173m financial boost to the economy and help create more than 2,200 jobs.
The meeting comes ahead of a government decision on a new capital expenditure plan which will allocate funding to major infrastructural projects.
Cork Chamber said they want the minister to give the N28 upgrade priority status.
“Certain infrastructural projects must be given a priority because of their wider economic benefits and Cork Chamber believes that the N28 Cork to Ringaskiddy road is one such catalyst project that deserves priority status, as it is key to unlocking a myriad of economic prospects in the region,” Chamber president Barrie O’Connell said.
“Delivery of an upgrade to the N28 would offer a significantly improved capacity to serve and enhance the key industry cluster of multinationals and indigenous firms operating in the Ringaskiddy area.
“These make a substantial contribution to the health of both the Cork and national economy.
“The upgrade will also maximise the potential of our marine economy which is projected to grow exponentially in the years ahead through the work in the Irish Marine Energy Research Cluster.”
A Chamber-commissioned economic assessment by Indecon International Economic Consultants showed that an upgrade of the road had the potential to create 2,228 jobs in additional direct employment, with an estimated €173m in annual direct financial impacts.
Mr O’Connell said this analysis proves the N28 to be a “true value-for-money project in its own right”.
The chamber is also expected to urge the minister to introduce a multi-annual fund for use by Cork Airport management for route development and marketing support.
“This will help strengthen the capacity of the airport to build on the recent positive announcements,” said Mr O’Connell.
Pressure is now mounting on the Government to deliver funding for major Cork road projects.
Business group Ibec last week called on the minister to prioritise the Dunkettle Interchange, the N28, the M20 Cork to Limerick motorway, the Mallow Northern Relief Road, and the Macroom bypass.
Ibec’s Cork regional director Peter O’Shaughnessy said there is a “once-in-a-generation” chance to use low interest rates to invest in infrastructure in the Cork region which is playing catch-up after years of under-investment.
“Our current road, port, environmental and broadband infrastructure is either not fit for purpose or inadequate to meet future demand,” he said.