The prospect of the Cork-Limerick motorway being run via the M8 at Cahir, Co Tipperary has significantly receded.
Cork county councillors have welcomed this news and yesterday's signing of a contract to design a planned northern relief road in Mallow.
Cllr Ian Doyle told a meeting of the council's Northern Division in Mallow that there was still a significant amount of concern in the North Cork area that the M20 (Cork-Limerick motorway) might not connect the two cities directly and instead be routed along some of the M8 (Cork-Dublin motorway) instead.
This has been mooted on several occasions in recent months. Some business groups and economists pointed out that it would be cheaper to do it that way, rather than build a complete new road between the two cities which would cost in the region of €800m to construct.
Cllr Gerard Murphy, a member of the Southern Regional Assembly, which directs government policy for the region, said the assembly recently met to discuss the issue.
He said a motion put forward at the assembly by Tipperary County Council to have the link built off the M8 had been defeated.
Cllr Murphy said as a result of the M8 connection would be removed from the national development plan and there would be a direct connection between Cork and Limerick for the motorway.
However, Padraig Barrett, the county council's director of roads, added a note of caution saying that the exact route selection was still being worked on.
“All schemes have to be looked at in a fair and impartial way,” he added.
However, Cllr Murphy was adamant that the Southern Regional Assembly, being the overriding authority for the region, had the last say.
“Members of the Southern Regional Assembly have emphasised the importance of the southern region plan sticking rigidly to that (direct Cork-Limerick link),” Cllr Murphy said.
Cllr Pat Hayes, chairman of the council's Northern Division, said they should write to Limerick City and County council seeking a meeting to discuss the route.
The Limerick authority will be responsible for the M20 route selection and its design. Cllr Doyle felt the wrong local authority was in charge of this, primarily because the vast majority of the motorway will be built in Co Cork.
Mr Barrett said the N20 is one of the most dangerous roads in the country and there was an important need to replace it with a new road, such as a motorway, which would be far safer.
“It's hoped the route selection will be chosen by next spring,” Mr Barrett said.
Meanwhile, Cork County Council officials signed a contract with Barry Transportation yesterday afternoon which will progress the long-awaited Mallow northern relief road.
Mr Barrett said the appointment of Barry Transportation as technical advisors would now enable preparation of documents for scheme design, Compulsory Purchase Orders (CPOs), an Environmental Impact Statement and submission of the project to An Board Pleanála for approval.
Cllr Pat Hayes, said the signing was very welcome as Mallow had “been waiting for this (relief road) for a long time.