Limerick City and County Council recently announced updates for the N/M20 Limerick to Cork Road. This news has been welcomed by commuters and local councilors, but what does this mean for bypassed towns?
First of all, what is included in these new plans? The main outcomes for the €1.4 billion upgrade are safety, well-being and economic growth for communities in surrounding areas.
This will see a reduction in the width of the roads, expanded “active travel” infrastructure, increased electrical vehicle charging points along routes, and encouraging more positive public transport routes.
The N20 is four times more deadly than the average Irish road, according to a 2021 report by Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII).
Reacting to the figures from the TII, University of Limerick student Colin Shealy said: “I wouldn’t really take note of the dangers to be honest. The figures kind of surprised me.”
UL student Aisling Hynes said the data from the TII is “awful” and welcomed progression to the N/M20 Cork to Limerick Road.
The council also aims to boost the health of both local and bypassed towns. In their plan, they mention the Connecting Ireland initiative which aims to increase connectivity for people living outside rural towns and cities.
The importance of maintaining the “economic ecosystem” of rural towns has been stressed by locals and politicians since Ireland began building its web of motorways in the 1980s.
In speaking to a Boyle, Co. Roscommon native of 50-plus years, they recalled seeing their hometown bypassed by the N4 Dublin to Sligo road. The N4 bypassed “the Curlews”, a “notoriously difficult road”.
The native added: “Bypasses are generally good for the community – it reduces traffic, it reduces pollution. If you think about a dozen freight trucks sitting chugging petrol in traffic, compared to driving steadily along a motorway – it’s everything for the local town and the environment”.
The Boyle native isn’t concerned about disappearing shopfronts of bypassed rural towns, adding: “People can move around and do business a lot more economically. Places locally like Boyle and Ballaghaderreen’s streetscapes have been transformed because they’re able to do those improvement works.
“If you had all of Dublin’s traffic still heading through Boyle, we’d never get anything done.”
Limerick City and County Council promises a “holistic, multi-modal view” of the link between the two counties, encompassing all aspects of travel, walking, cycling, public transport and electric driving.
For more information, visit https://corklimerick.ie/ or to have your voice heard, attend the projects’ public online webinars at 7 PM on 29th November and 6th December.