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Economist argues against M20 motorway

Wednesday, 8th May, 2019 4:39pm

While the signing of the design contract late last week means the 80km M20 motorway between Limerick and Cork has moved closer to reality, the project has been criticised by a prominent economist.

Edgar Morgenroth, Professor of Economics and Dublin City University said the motorway shouldn’t be built. He said that building more roads won’t deal with climate change. The focus instead should be on investing money in the cities of Limerick and Cork.

Speaking on ‘Newstalk Breakfast’ recently, firstly he said that having driven the road on a number of occasions at peak times, it is “pretty free-flowing until you get to the cities. The traffic problem is in the cities, in particular in Cork”.

“The National Planning Framework aims to increase the scale of Cork and Limerick quite substantially. If you want to make that happen, you are going to have to invest in Limerick and Cork and not between them,” he added.

His third reason was that climate change challenges won’t be met if we keep building roads.

Thomas McHugh, Director of Public Affairs at Cork Chamber said he disagreed with the economist saying that the road had a significant amount of commercial and agricultural traffic and was strongly affected by traffic at times.

He said the current road has “twice the national average of collisions, with 118 accidents taking place per annum.

“He’s saying it’s an either/or situation. We need inter-city connectivity and investment in bus connectivity in cities. To say otherwise is an absurdity. All pieces of infrastructure are key to cities thriving,” he said.

“We want to be better connected to our nearest neighbouring city. Kerry will benefit and all the way up to Galway. We should have bus and cycle lanes but we need connectivity too,” he added.

The design contract for the N/M20 Cork to Limerick Project was signed in Limerick recently in the presence of the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Cork and Limerick Chambers of Commerce said that the project to be prioritised in the national development plan. Conor Healy, CEO of Cork Chamber said: “The M20 is an essential investment for the future of not just the south and mid-west but for the nation. It will be a major economic catalyst, creating a powerful economic corridor comprising Cork, Limerick and Galway.

“Connecting the country’s second, third and fourth largest cities by motorway will significantly boost efforts to achieve the type of balanced regional development that is badly needed on the island of Ireland. It is a key component of Ireland 2040 and must be delivered without delay.”

“A major report - Gearing up for the M20: A Route to Success by Indecon Economic Consultants and RED C Research - showed that, when completed, the M20 will provide a gross exchequer impact of up to €128 million per annum and support an additional 4,000-5,000 direct jobs in the region. The M20 has the potential to unlock major economic benefit for the nation as a whole.”

It is set to be the biggest infrastructure project outside of Dublin.

Limerick City and County Council, as lead authority for the massive project, has appointed Barry Transportation and its project partners WSP and Sweco, as technical advisors to progress the scheme up to the stage where it will be submitted for planning.

Planning and design will commence this month. As part of these phases there will be extensive public consultation taking place.

Dee Ryan, CEO of Limerick Chamber said: “The M20 is among the most crucial infrastructure projects yet to be delivered in the State. The appointment of the design contract shows the level of intent there is for the project.

“However, in welcoming this, we would urge that the momentum is maintained as every day that goes by without this holds back the south and west from reaching its economic potential. The delivery of the M20 needs to be expediated as no other infrastructure project in the country can contribute so positively for so many.”

A project office has been established in Lissanalta House, Dooradoyle, Limerick V94 H5RR.

For further info, see www.corklimerick.ie or phone 061-951000.

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