University of Limerick President Professor Kerstin Mey has expressed disappointment at the omission of the Limerick Northern Distributor Road from the revised National Development Plan published by Government today.
“While I very much welcome the ringfencing of nearly €2.9 billion in further and higher education infrastructure, research and innovation over the next five years, it is disappointing for our region that the Limerick Northern Distributor Road has been omitted from the National Development Plan," said Professor Mey.
“Not only would this key piece of infrastructure facilitate greater connectivity between the campus and the north side of Limerick City, TUS, Shannon Airport, County Clare and the West of Ireland, it is also necessary to ensure UL and its campus continues to function and flourish in the decades ahead,” she said.
“Without this investment, there is a real risk that the campus will be further affected by traffic congestion and that this congestion will continue to spill over into the surrounding area,” Professor Mey added.
In 2017, then President of UL Dr Des Fitzgerald called for the road to be delivered “as a matter of urgency”, identifying it as it as an essential part of both the continued growth of the Mid-West economy and the university itself.
The Mayor of the City and County of Limerick Daniel Butler has also expressed his disappointment that the remainder of the Limerick Northern Distributor Road has not been included in the programme in the National Development Plan by the government.
In responding to the publication of the plan today, Mayor Butler welcomed that commitments were repeated to major transport projects including the N/M20 Cork to Limerick Road, as well as major investment across education, housing, water services and healthcare sectors in the Mid-West.
However, he said the one project vital for the future development of Limerick – the completion of the Limerick Northern Distributor Road, has been left off the list.
This is despite the fact that Phase 1 of the project from Coonagh to Knockalisheen is already under construction, which will be invaluable as to the development of Moyross and the surrounding area.
Mayor Daniel Butler said: “The completion of the Limerick Northern Distributor Road is essential for the continued development of Limerick. Limerick City is the capital of the Mid-West and must deliver on its potential and fulfil its leadership role regionally, nationally and internationally. While I very much welcome the inclusion of the other projects, the LNDR is crucial for the development of the entire region, so that it can counteract the development imbalance along the eastern seaboard centred around Dublin.
“As Ireland’s economic recovery continues the city must position itself for investment and growth. Top quality modern infrastructure is an essential requirement for Limerick to maintain its competitive advantage and encourage more investment.”
“Better infrastructure will improve access to new housing developments for citizens, the National Technology Park for investors, the University of Limerick for students and the northern suburbs of the city.
“Overall there will be much better connectivity for residents and businesses in east County Limerick and south County Clare across all of North Limerick and onto the National Road Network.
“The Limerick Northern Distributor Road will significantly reduce through traffic in Limerick City Centre improving accessibility and allowing road space to be reallocated to improved pedestrian and cycling facilities and to allow for more frequent and reliable public transport.
“Public and Active Travel is already included in the plans for the LNDR with good quality cycling and walking facilities provided along the route.”
Mayor Butler said the peak time traffic congestion at the Mackey Roundabout will be reduced by the provision of an upgraded junction that will also improve accessibility and reduce delays at the Cappamore Road junction.
He said the road would also have new entrances into UL and the National Technology Park (NTP) which will help reduce the growing congestion in the areas and allow for the further development of the NTP, which will lead to more jobs and prosperity for the region.
The Mayor continued: “At present all main roads in the north and east of the city are overloaded, especially at peak times. The road will give road users more choice to move around the city and distribute traffic more evenly across the city’s network.
“It is especially important for the northern suburbs such as Corbally and will greatly relieve pressure in Annacotty, Monaleen and Castletroy. In east Limerick the road will provide for improved connections to Annacotty Village, the Cappamore Road, the National Technological Park and the University of Limerick.”
“Journey times around the north of Limerick City will be significantly reduced. For example on the Limerick Northern Distributor Road the travel time from Coonagh to the North Campus of UL will be less than 15 minutes at peak times.
“I note that in the plan it states that local authorities may also consider bringing forward proposals for further locally important road infrastructure projects to deal with particular safety and access issues. The Limerick Northern Distributor Road is such a scheme and we must all work together in the region to put pressure on the government and our local and regional politicians to fight for this road and for the development of Limerick,” he added.