21 February 2023
By Elaine Murphy
The M20 project is identified as a priority investment in the Government’s National Development Plan 2021-2030
Details of the active travel strategy, junction strategy with mobility hubs, public transport opportunities and refinement of the study area for the N/M20 Cork to Limerick project have been published today.
The N/M20 Preferred Transport Solution is based upon a holistic, multi modal view to improving connectivity, safety, and economic links between the cities of Cork and Limerick, and ultimately Galway. Today’s announcement follows consideration of extensive public feedback and of evolving climate, environmental and transport policy.
The N/M20 project, identified as a priority investment in the Government’s National Development Plan 2021-2030, will deliver 80km of transformative active travel infrastructure for walking and cycling, enhancing the health and wellbeing of our communities and making them more accessible and attractive for everyone. The active travel infrastructure will integrate with existing and planned active travel and greenway networks in Cork and Limerick.
The junction strategy will provide connectivity with the communities of Blarney, Rathduff, Mourneabbey, Mallow, Buttevant, Charleville, Bruree, and Croom and connecting with the national road network at Attyflin near Patrickswell. The junctions will be enhanced through the provision of mobility hubs, with secure parking, EV charging, effective active travel and public transport linkages to nearby communities, offering greater travel choice and modal change opportunities.
The project will have a major impact on the attractiveness of public transport, achieving intercity journey time savings of up to 30 minutes for express bus services between Cork and Limerick and improving journey times and reliability for local bus services along the N20 corridor. Additionally, the project team recommended the development of a “no change” additional hourly rail service between the two cities, via Limerick Junction, reducing intercity rail journey times by over 20 minutes between Cork and Limerick.
Following extensive environmental surveys, design development and public consultation, the study area has been refined with the alternative grey area at Ballyhea removed from the study area, and an alternative grey area at Rathduff included in the study area for consideration of an alternative option.
Limerick City and County Council in partnership with Cork County Council, Cork City Council, Transport Infrastructure Ireland and the Department of Transport are progressing Phase 3 Design and Environmental Evaluation. Further information available at www.corklimerick.ie. The project team continues to welcome feedback from property owners, communities, businesses and other stakeholders. The project team will continue to progress the design and environmental evaluation of the project with further updates scheduled in 2023.
The Green Party in Cork has welcomed a renewed focus for the Cork-Limerick N/M20 project to reflect “a more genuinely multi-modal project”.
Public representatives in Cork and Limerick received a presentation update from Transport Infrastructure Ireland on the project this morning. Speaking afterwards, Green Party councillor for Cork City North East, Oliver Moran, said the project focus was now on providing active travel, public transport and mobility hubs alongside an upgrade roadway:
“This shift in approach will offer better opportunities to mix and match along the route depending on what someone needs. It seems the penny is dropping that this needs more than just a motorway project as normal. As well as being more forward thinking, that more rounded approach is a vision that local communities can get behind.”
“It includes local walking and cycling routes connecting communities all along the way, as well as new mobility hubs for car sharing and public transport pick-up. Few people are going to walk or cycle all the way from Cork to Limerick but in every local area it helps make that place easy and safer to live in. At the micro-level, it means joining neighbours and villages together all the way from Cork to Limerick. It means students being able to cycle to the bus, pensioners being able walk to theirs neighbour, and tradespeople having dedicated places to carpool to work.”
“Closer to the city, the project now includes the ambition for a fully-integrated park and ride, mobility hub and railway station at Blarney. There’s potential for that to be delivered in advance of the overall project and it ties in with work already happening on the Cork commuter rail network. It was confirmed today that there’s no infrastructural barriers to a direct Cork–Limerick rail service either. I think that should now be delivered immediately by Irish Rail as a start of this realignment.”