No funds for dangerous Cork-Limerick road
A key Cork County Council engineer has expressed his disappointment that funding will not be coming for the M20 Cork-Limerick road where 23 people have lost their lives over the last seven and a half years.
Tom Stritch, Director of Services for Roads for Cork County Council, expressed his disappointment at the decision to fund road other road projects and said he was “disappointed but not surprised” at the decision of Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Leo Varadkar.
On Tuesday he announced funding for a number of road projects including the N17-N18 Gort-Tuam link, the M11 Gorey-Enniscorthy and the N25 New Ross bypass.
They were announced as part of the Government stimulus plan announced by the Minister for Public Reform. Minister Brendan Howlin has allocated almost €1bn to significant transport projects in the new plan.
Since 2005, 23 people have suffered fatal accidents on the N20, including a high of six dead in 2011 over the eight year period. One woman has died on the road in 2012 so far.
Mr Stritch was part of a delegation from Cork County Council in addition to councillors and a number of TDs, including Minister of State Seán Sherlock that met Minister Varadkar in May and put the case of the N20 to him.
As a result of the meeting, Mr Stritch was not surprised that the M20 did not secure any more funding. He said that around €20m had already been spent on plans to upgrade the road, which runs from Co Limerick to Blackpool and this is likely to be wasted now.
“At a minimum, we wanted the Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) to be reactivated. He wouldn’t do that and didn’t see that he would have the money to pay for the road.
“We also made the case for four or five smaller schemes on the N20 and the town of Mallow. He said we could take it up with the National Roads Authority (NRA), which we have done. He gave us the impression that the projects were also too big,” he said.
The N20 connects Ireland's second largest city with the third largest city.
Under the Transport 21 initiative, announced in 2005, the Atlantic Corridor road project aimed to link Letterkenny to Waterford via Limerick and Cork with high quality roadway. A major part of this project involved the upgrading of the N20 route between Cork and Limerick.
It was proposed that the entire N20 would be replaced with a new M20 motorway, around 90km in length. That project has been suspended indefinitely for some time.
Sean O’Neill, spokesperson for the Road Safety Authority said: “We see it as a critical project for the country, but it’s not as advanced as Gort-Tuam”.
The Cork Independent contacted all Cork East, Cork North West and Cork North Central TDs as the road runs through their constituencies.
Fine Gael TD for Cork East Tom Barry was part of the group that met Leo Varadkar to lobby for infrastructure. "This is a priority,” he said.
“The projects we are currently lobbying for include a Mallow by-pass, a Charleville by-pass, the N72 from Mallow to Fermoy, the M20 from Cork to Limerick” as well as changes to the road network near Buttevant.
“Although the M20 is a priority, I believe it could be 2017 before it is realised." Deputy Barry is anxious to ensure that money is not wasted.
Fellow Fine Gael South East TD David Stanton said: "It is very important that this development is made."
Cork North Central TD Jonathan O'Brien of Sinn Féin said: "The Cork to Limerick road is the last piece of the jigsaw which needs to be completed. There is an urgency to get it done as soon as possible."
Fianna Fáil’s Billy Kelleher described the M20 as a “key component which is missing”.
"We have lobbied the government a number of times over the years but it seems it has fallen off the government's list of priorities. There have been a number of tragedies on the road over the years and it is critical that this infrastructural development is realised."
Cork North West TD Michael Moynihan, also of Fianna Fáil said “we are lobbying the Minister as much as we can. It is a major infrastructural piece. It would free up Charleville and Buttevant and a Cork-Limerick connection would help develop the entire region."
Six TDs did not return calls. Seán Sherlock, Sandra McLellan, Áine Collins, Michael Creed, Kathleen Lynch and Dara Murphy were unavailable for comment.