Ireland’s €2 billion motorway linking Cork and Limerick

Ireland is planning €2 billion motorway linking Cork and Limerick
Road Structures / July 5, 2024 1 minute 45 seconds Read
By MJ Woof
A new 80km highway will boost transport in Ireland, linking the country’s second and third largest cities, Cork and Limerick – image courtesy of © Madrugadaverde|

A new tolled motorway for Ireland will link Cork and Limerick and cost €2 billion. Work will start on the M20 motorway in 2027. Construction for the 80km route will take until 2031 to complete.

Ireland’s National Development Plan (NDP) say that the N/M20 Cork to Limerick scheme will boost connectivity between Cork and Limerick. This will improve the quality of the transport network, addressing safety issues associated with the existing N20 route and provide for safer and more efficient journey times.

The M20 motorway will feature a 120km/h speed limit and data suggests that the new route will be five times safer than the current N20 with its single carriageway, reducing intercity journey times on average by 30 minutes.

As the largest single active travel project to be undertaken in Ireland, the project includes up to 100km of safe, shared active travel pathways connecting communities from Blarney to Patrickswell. It will also help to encourage walking and cycling for work, school, and leisure, linking communities, promoting healthier lifestyles, and reducing transport emissions.

To improve existing infrastructure, the project will use over 60% of the existing N20 road corridor for developing the dual carriageway motorway or reallocation of existing road space for the new active travel infrastructure.

The route will feature eight overhead gantries along its length, using distance based barrier free tolling. Work is ongoing to determine appropriate toll charges for the various classes of vehicles, balancing different factors, including the objective to remove long distance traffic, especially heavy goods vehicles from the communities along the existing N20 to maximise safety and environmental benefits.

According to the planning team, "Poor connectivity inhibits the growth of the regional economy and the facilitation of counterbalance to Dublin. The potential for a 50% growth in population in both Cork and Limerick is outlined in the National Planning Framework (NPF) and the requirement for improved connectivity country wide informs Project 2040, with Cork-Limerick links identified as a priority.

"The need for improvements to the N20 was identified in the 1998 National Roads Needs Study. It was then stated as a Government objective in the 2002 National Spatial Strategy and subsequently carried into the 2000-2006 National Development Plan. In 2008 a study was commissioned to identify a preferred route corridor for an upgraded carriageway between Cork and Limerick.

"Limerick City and County Council, in partnership with Cork County Council, Cork City Council, Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) and the Department of Transport (formerly DTTaS) are developing the N/M20 Cork to Limerick Project. Limerick City and County Council, as lead authority, have appointed Barry Transportation and its project partners Sweco and WSP (BSW) as Technical Advisors to progress the planning and design for the scheme.