Proposals for Limerick road criticised
FRANK McDONALD, Environment Editor
A PLANNED new dual carriageway in Limerick would involve “an obtrusive and elevated roadway” over a stretch of the river Shannon’s floodplain, local residents have claimed.
The proposed highway, which is designed for up to 30,000 vehicles a day, would run from the old Dublin-Limerick road, then north of the University of Limerick, crossing the river Shannon near Ardnacrusha and then onwards via Parteen to Knockalisheen.
There, it would link up with the first phase of the 25km northern distributor road, which was approved by An Bord Pleanála last September to run from Knockalisheen to Coonagh. Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar last month pledged €2 million in funding towards its cost.
Residents of both Clonlara and Parteen in Co Clare have criticised elements of the planned development.
“Although the road will impact severely on the local environment and community, we are concentrating on the madness of building any structure across this important floodplain,” the Cappavilla, Garraun, Shravokee interest group, based in Clonlara, said to The Irish Times.
“Have we learned anything from the excesses of the Celtic Tiger years?” the group asked.
Residents of Parteen said the proposed road would “split the village in two” and called for alternatives that would “ensure the safety of the young and elderly” in gaining access to church, school, shops and recreational areas.
The Environmental Community of Parteen has also complained that Clare County Council was denying the public access to a “constraints study” carried out by consultant engineer Roughan O’Donovan on behalf of the council and its partners in Limerick city and county. Not even councillors have had access to this study, which was prepared some time ago but is not being released because it is still officially in “draft” form – and therefore not required to be made public under the Freedom of Information Act.
Describing it as a “work in progress”, acting administrative officer Barry Keating told objectors that the study “will continue to be in ‘draft’ until after the preferred route corridor is confirmed”, as its findings could be “impacted upon” by public consultations.
“In any case,” Mr Keating added, “the purpose of this consultation is to obtain and understand the observations and concerns of the general public in relation to the emerging preferred route corridor rather than in relation to route options which were previously consulted upon.”
Senior council engineer Tom Tiernan said that “extensive survey work, investigation, fact-finding, analysis, assessment and public consultation has gone into the previous two key stages of the process” of defining a preferred route.
“It’s important that the focus in submissions is on the emerging preferred route corridor and not on what went before,” he said. “This way, we and our consultants can understand and appreciate much more clearly what the genuine concerns of the people are.”
Objectors have also said the proposed road “is home to a protected species of frog”. Today is the deadline for making submissions on the emerging preferred route.
© 2012 The Irish Times