The process of planning and designing the new Limerick to Foynes road has begun, with the council hoping to have a preferred route selected before the end of this year.
The development aims to provide an upgraded link between Foynes port and the M7/N18 at Limerick City. A number of options are being considered, including an upgrade of the existing N69.
Paul Crowe, director of services, travel and transportation with Limerick City and County Council, explained that the scheme is currently being moved through a number of phases, the first of which is a series of feasibility studies aimed at assisting the planning of further phases.
He continued: “The feasibility studies are currently being finalised and once completed will be followed immediately by Phase 2, which comprises a constraints study and route selection.
“Phase 3 of the process will be the development of the preliminary design for the preferred route corridor, while the final phase will involve the preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and the completion of the statutory planning process through An Bord Pleanála.”
Mr Crowe added that the public, landowners and other key stakeholders would also be consulted during the coming months.
“The public will be informed and have the opportunity to actively engage with the process through the establishment of a project website. Formal public consultations will also be held during the route selection process,” he said.
The local authority, which will manage the scheme through the Mid West National Road Design Office, says the new road will also support the planned expansion of Foynes Port’s capacity and usage as outlined in the government’s National Ports Policy 2013 and its designation as a Core Port under EU legislation (Trans European Network TEN-T).
Upgrading the road infrastructure to the port from Limerick is also a key recommendation in the Shannon Foynes Port Company master plan Vision 2041, published in 2013.
The council says the Foynes to Limerick Road Improvement Scheme will provide a high quality road connection between Limerick City and Foynes leading to reduced journey times and improved safety for all users of the road.