THE €40 million first phase of the northern distributor road from Coonagh to Knockalisheen, including a new link to Moyross, should be delivered within the lifetime of the present government, Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar has said.
At a Limerick Chamber breakfast at the Radisson Hotel, Minister Varadkar announced he was allocating €2 million to Limerick City Council to bring the project - which has already been approved by An Bord Pleanala - to the tender stage.
Austerity had seen his department budget cut by 14 per cent this year but Minister Varadkar said this was the “right decision” to ensure the cuts in health, education and social welfare budgets stayed below five per cent.
One of the capital projects sacrificed had been the Limerick to Cork motorway but it remained a project that had the minister’s “support”.
The Minister said that while he agreed that the budget cuts were “more than I would have liked”, the government had prioritised other areas.
“Roads can wait a little while but the child going to school can’t wait and the sick person who needs medicine can’t wait,” he said.
The estimated cost of the M20 to Cork was €1 billion the government simply didn’t have.
To that end, the minister said he had approved €2 million for City Hall to bring the first phase of the northern relief road to tender.
“I’m confident it will be able to happen within the term of this government and I think it’s important that we should do so in terms of Limerick Regeneration project,” he said.