South East Chambers are collectively calling on the Government to give priority to the creation of a Waterford Limerick motorway, over the Cork to Limerick route, ahead of the Capital funding announcement in early February.
The group, which includes Chambers from Carlow, Dungarvan & West Waterford, Enniscorthy, Gorey, Kilkenny, New Ross, Wexford and Waterford, have been vocal in highlighting the importance of better connectivity between the regional capitals, as designated by the draft National Planning Framework.
Backing the submission to Government by the Local Authorities in Waterford, Tipperary and Limerick supporting the upgrade of the N24 to motorway status, Waterford Chamber President Paul Nolan said: “As outlined in the National Planning Framework, we are facing a time of tremendous growth and it is clear that the cities of Waterford, Limerick and Cork in the Southern Region will be instrumental in that vision, particularly in complementing the role of Dublin.
“Offering major international access to four of the country’s five major ports and two international airports, a road network must be put in place to fast-track efficient connectivity between the cities as a matter of priority.
“The N24 in its current state presents a major obstacle to commercial operations and does not present a progressive image to potential investors coming to Ireland or to the South-East and Mid-West regions.
“Notwithstanding the importance of the proposed M20 from Cork to Limerick, South East Chambers believes first consideration must be given to upgrading the existing N24 to motorway standard running from Waterford to Limerick, connecting the M8 to Cork at Cahir and linking the M18 to Galway.
“This is the optimal solution to achieve maximum connectivity between the four Regional Cities (Cork, Limerick, Galway and Waterford) in the most cost-effective and efficient way possible.”
Outlining the key benefits, South East Chambers believes that the upgrade of the N24 would reduce the urgency for the construction of new direct motorways between Limerick and Cork and Waterford and Cork, saving significant public expenditure, maximising existing public infrastructure and creating key connectivity across the Southern Region and between the regional capitals.
On completion, the proposed M24 would ensure motorway connectivity between the cities of Waterford, Cork, Limerick and Galway, thereby connecting the South East, South and Western regions to become a very real and viable counterbalance to growth and development in the Dublin region.
The N24 suffers from slow journey times, is no longer fit for purpose and is currently routed through a number of towns and villages. As a result of Brexit, trade to and from continental Europe, via our ports is likely to increase, thus putting further strain on our already ponderous routes and carbon emissions.
The viability of the ports in the South East (Rosslare, Belview/Waterford), the Mid West (Foynes/Limerick) and the South West (Cork) to act as import and export centres with the EU and the UK are dependent on high quality, safe and direct transport corridors within our region.
Concluding, Mr Nolan said: “The Southern Region is on course to develop and grow significantly in the coming years and must be given every opportunity to reach its full potential. As a result, South East Chamber insists the region be given due consideration during the consultation process of the National Planning Framework and Regional Spatial and Economic Strategy, particularly in respect of better connectivity between all our regional capital cities.”
Submission in support of the upgrade of the N24 from Waterford to Limerick (this submission was sent to the Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport, Shane Ross TD; Minister for Finance, Paschal Donohoe TD; Stephen Blair, Director, Southern Regional Assembly; Michael Nolan, CEO, Transport Infrastructure Ireland)