Local Government Minister Simon Coveney said the project, shelved during the economic crash, is a priority, as work continues to finalise by September the Ireland 2040 national planning framework strategy.
He said the document will place significant emphasis on promoting and facilitating growth outside Dublin.
“And so we do need to connect Ireland’s second a nd third largest cities as an obvious counterbalance to the dominance of Dublin which has 40% of the population and 50% of the economic turnover,” Mr Coveney said. “Cork, Limerick, Galway, Waterford — these cities need to grow and expand and to create counterbalances to Dublin.
“We undoubtedly have to find a way of financing and building a much better road infrastructure between Cork and Limerick.”
He said the Minister for Public Expenditure, Paschal Donohue, is assessing capital expenditure programmes as part of a mid-term review.
He said that review should be finalised around the same time the national planning framework strategy is finished in September.
“This [the motorway] is a €1bn project. It is a priority and the Government is looking at ways that we can finance that sooner rather than later,” he said.
Business and political leaders in Cork and Limerick have sought upgrades to the N20 for over a decade. A favoured 80km route, from the junction with the proposed Cork north ring road near Blarney to the junction with the N21 at Attyflynn, Co Limerick, which would cut travel time between Blarney and Attyflynn from 61 to 45 minutes, has been selected.
However, former Transport Minister Leo Varadkar shelved the plan in 2011. His successor Paschal Donohue, kept plans on hold in 2015.
However, a €1m funding allocation from the Government to the NRA’s successor, Transport Infrastructure Ireland, last November has kickstarted preparatory work on the project again.