The new Cork to Limerick route will encompass 80km of separated, high-quality dual carriageway.

Cork-Limerick route chosen

A “mixed-modal transport solution” has been confirmed as the long-awaited preferred transport solution for the N/M20 Cork to Limerick project.

The project has been in the making for the past three years and, according to the project team, the best case scenario for completion is 2030.

The announcement follows significant public consultation and detailed appraisal of a number of road-based and rail-based options and active travel strategy.

The project will encompass 80km of separated dual carriageway, a segregated 80km cycle and walking corridor, and enhanced public transport corridors provided via rail and bus services with additional and more frequent services.

The preferred motorway option, with a ballpark cost figure of €1.5 billion, will commence just south of the Blarney junction and aims to maximise the reuse of the N20 until it diverges eastward near Mourneabbey.

Remaining to the east of the N20, the new section of motorway will cross the River Blackwater, the N72, the N73 and the River Awbeg as it bypasses to the east of Mallow and Buttevant until it converges with the existing N20 north of Buttevant.

It will then diverge westwards near Ballyhea, bypassing to the west of Charleville, before re-joining the N20 south of Croom in Limerick.

The route will then reuse the N20 Croom Bypass before diverging at Garranroe and heading west of the existing N20 until it reaches its tie in point with the existing M20/N21 at Attyflin just outside Limerick city.

A primary objective in the development of the new route was to make it safer for road users. In the last 25 years, 62 people have died on the N20.

Preferred rail-based options

Three options for providing a new train service between Cork and Limerick were examined by the project team with option number one, a no-changeover service via Limerick Junction using existing lines, being the preferred option.

It is believed the service would generate around 700 extra journeys per day between Cork and Limerick. Journey time will be one hour and 21 minutes with a train leaving each city for the other every 30 minutes.

For all three options, the new passengers are expected to primarily transfer from existing bus services and therefor there is no significant reduction in road traffic volumes expected as a result of the new rail service.

Active Travel

The Active Travel strategy focuses on maintaining and improving connections between communities such as improving connectivity to Mallow and Charleville bus and rail stations and the proposed Park & Ride sites at Raheen and Blarney.

The plan suggests the reallocation of sections of the existing N20 to cycling lanes due to the reduced traffic flows and transfer of traffic to the new road infrastructure.

The project will also offer an opportunity to create greenways along the route.

Welcoming the announcement, Fianna Fáil TD for Cork North Central, Pádraig O’Sullivan said he is happy to see the selection of the “Green Corridor” as the route for the N/M20.

He said: “It is important that the work starts as soon as possible and that the new road would ideally link with a new northern ring road connecting Bishopstown with Blarney and Glanmire.”

Also welcoming the news was Conor Healy, CEO of Cork Chamber: “This mixed-modal solution is essential to de-congesting and transforming towns along the route that typically see heavy and dangerous traffic conditions.

“It is vital to the success of the project that strategically placed ‘Park and Ride’ services and mobility hubs remain high on the agenda as the project progresses.”

The N/M20 Cork to Limerick Road Improvement Scheme is a key element in Project Ireland 2040, the Government’s long-term overarching strategy to make Ireland a better country for all of its people. The Strategy comprises the National Planning Framework (NPF) to 2040 and the National Development Plan (NDP) 2018-2027.

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