AN Taisce in Limerick has lodged a formal objection to the €150m Northern Distributor Road, claiming if it goes ahead it will be detrimental to the centre.
With councillors set to decide next month whether to vary the development plan to allow the orbital route go ahead, the heritage body has added its voice to the opposition.
When the plan came before members in 2015, it was resoundingly defeated. But since then, the architects behind the scheme have made changes, and sources have indicated it will be more warmly received by councillors.
The road will open up Coonagh, Moyross, then cross the Shannon, bypass Corbally and traverse the Mountshannon Road before continuing to the Cappamore Junction and the Dublin Road.
A spur is proposed across the Mulcair River to provide a link to the National Technology Park, while the Northern Distributor Road would eventually continue and connect to the Mackey roundabout to allow access to the M7 motorway.
But An Taisce believes this road is only an “easy fix” to alleviate city centre traffic congestion, but is not backed by “best practice in transport planning”.
“Research has consistently shown that construction of such roads does not actually lead to a reduction in congestion due to the phenomenon of induced demand.”
An Taisce Limerick says, “We have plenty of examples in Limerick already. Peak time congestion on the Dock Road and Condell Road has not been significantly alleviated by the construction of the Limerick Tunnel. Chronic traffic congestion at peak times still is a feature of the Childers Road, despite the construction of various distributor and link roads and the M7 east of the city.”
An Taisce add the building of the road will bring “increased car dependency and urban sprawl”.
“We believe that a peripheral ring road will inevitably encourage development on the outskirts of the city, instead of encouraging development at its heart.”
But at a meeting last week on the proposed Limerick-Cork motorway, Caroline Kelleher of the Limerick Chamber pointed to an unprecedented intervention from the IDA, and bosses of three of the biggest firms in the National Technology Park at Plassey stating its need.
She said: “I think it’s very clear it’s a necessary piece of infrastructure for Limerick. We have seen a number of key businesses citing it as necessary to develop Limerick. If we are talking about attracting foreign direct investment and supporting the jobs market in Limerick, it’s crucial. Take a look at the National Technology Park. That will not be developed further [at present] due to the congestion. We have a serious problem with that – it’s the region’s largest business park.”
Ms Kelleher’s comments came after Cathal McCarthy, who is opposed to the scheme questioned its need.
Referring to both projects, he said: “This is an either/or choice. We have to make our mind up about what we really need. Let’s pick one we definitely need and put the other on the back burner.”