CLARE opponents of the €100 million second phase of the Limerick Northern Distributor Road have demanded publication of the cost-benefit analysis for the scheme.
They have warned taxpayers could be on the hook for even more subsidies to the private backers of the Limerick Tunnel if thousands of motorists get a “non-tolled alternative”.
Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar has allocated €2 million to Limerick City Council to bring the €40 million first phase from Coonagh to Knockalisheen to tender - and pledged it will be delivered within the lifetime of the government.
But funds are not currently in place for the costlier second phase, which will cross the Shannon, Blackwater and Tailrace as it winds through Parteen and Clonlara before linking up with the old Dublin Road.
Northern Distributor Concerned Residents (NDCR) have formed in opposition to the emerging preferred route for the second phase, arguing it will divide the community of Parteen in two and aggravate flood risk in Clonlara.
Clare County Council - in what project engineer Tom Tiernan said was a “rare” step “in an effort to ensure residents and public representatives are fully enagaed in the consultation process” - this month acceded to local pressure and published the draft constraints study for the road project
But NDCR spokesman Ed English said this 100-page document devoted only three pages to “air and noise pollution which will be among the main impacts on the villages and residents in the area”.
Nor had there been a sound economic case in the constraints study, which was why Mr English’ group now wants publication of the cost-benefit analysis.
“We are calling on Mr Tiernan and the County Council to release the cost benefit analysis and show why the road has been pushed to this point, already costing the taxpayer a sum in excess of a million euros.
“If the analysis is a positive one, then - in the interests of openness and transparency - it should be made available and demonstrate how the project will justify its price tag of hundreds of millions and equally show how the taxpayer will not be exposed to additional costs in subsidies for the tunnel,” Mr English said.
Officials at both Clare County and Limerick City Council have said there are obvious regional benefits for an overall scheme that is part of Limerick Regeneration’s aim to open up Moyross and the northside of Limerick.
And improving links between Shannon Airport, Limerick city, UL and industry at Plassey would stimulate economic growth.