Money ‘no longer a barrier’ to motorway

The Cork to Limerick motorway will go ahead, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has pledged, saying that money is “no longer a barrier” to progressing the project.

Money ‘no longer a barrier’ to motorway

In an interview with the Irish Examiner, he also said he wanted plans for a world-class events centre in the city to get the green light — but a review of the taxpayer spend on the project is under way.

Mr Varadkar confirmed the long-awaited M20 motorway link between Limerick and Cork would be included in the Government’s 10-year capital plan launch in December. In the meantime, money has been allocated for its design.

“So money now has been allocated to allow planning and design to recommence. That’s going to take a couple of years, these projects always do unfortunately.

“The money is no longer a barrier to progressing that project,” he said.

Mr Varadkar said he had a “personal interest” in the project, after previously being a minister for transport.

“I remember when it had to be suspended because we didn’t have the money to progress it anymore. Now we do have the money, so it’s the most important transport project in Munster. It’s going ahead, just like the Dublin metro is going ahead.

"And even before we announce the 10-year plan, I can say that it will be in the 10-year plan. And planning and design for it will begin immediately.”

The project is of “crucial importance for Munster and Cork and Limerick,” the Taoiseach said.

Later in a tweet he said: “M20 will link Cork to Limerick and on to Galway. All roads will no longer lead the (sic) Dublin. Major part of next capital plan.”

The 80km motorway will connect the two largest cities outside of Dublin and will improve road safety.

There was some confusion after the route was left out of the budget speech this week. Transport Minister Shane Ross later confirmed that up to €20m was now set aside for its planning and design.

Cork Chamber of Commerce CEO Conor Healy welcomed the news, which was also mentioned by Mr Varadkar at a business breakfast in Páirc Uí Chaoimh. Mr Healy said the new route would support up to 5,400 new direct jobs.

Meanwhile, Mr Varadkar said he was committed to seeing the long-awaited proposed Cork events centre being built.

With projected costs now at €73m, he confirmed it is being reviewed.

“I think it’s a great project and I will be delighted to see it actually go to construction and I think it will hugely enhance the offering Cork has for business and for visitors in particular. So I really want to see it go ahead. It has run into some difficulties.”

Explaining the need to review the Cork events centre plan, Mr Varadkar added: “The projected cost has gone up from some €50-plus million to €70m. The government commitment of €12m has been honoured and will be fully honoured.

“But there is an ask now for additional taxpayers’ funds so before we can commit that, we need to do due diligence, we need to find out why the cost has gone higher and for what reason.”

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