The accepted Route Corridor is the same as that which was put on display for public consultation purposes at the commencement of the public consultation period on January 18th, 2012.
Tom Tiernan, Project Manager and Senior Engineer with Clare County Council explained: “The process which has led to the identification of the Preferred Route Corridor has been detailed and has endeavoured insofar as is reasonably possible to acquire the views of those who may be affected by the project. Unfortunately, it has been necessary to curtail regular planning activity through the process. However, arising from the acceptance of the Preferred Route Corridor, this planning curtailment no longer applies other than within the immediate vicinity of the corridor. Prospective planning applicants in proximity to the corridor are advised to consult with the planning department in either Clare County Council or Limerick County Council as appropriate before preparing detailed proposals.
The Project Consultants are now commencing work on the next stage of the process – Design of the road itself and preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), both of which will be submitted to An Bord Pleanala in due course for adjudication – this will effectively be the formal planning process for the scheme and will facilitate public consultation as in relation to any planning application. Also, procedures will get underway shortly to facilitate amendment to the Clare and Limerick County Development Plans to reflect the decision to accept the Preferred Route Corridor. This process will also have a public consultation component.
Once completed, the Limerick Northern Distributor Road will connect Coonagh Roundabout with the old Limerick/Dublin Road. Phase 1 of the project which will link Coonagh to Knockalisheen is already approved and will go to construction in the near future. The Route Corridor for Phase 2 extends from the Knockalisheen end of Phase 1, passes in the vicinity of Parteen and Ardnacrusha and goes to the north of the University of Limerick before crossing the river Shannon to link up with the old Limerick/Dublin Road (R445) at the Cappamore junction. The project is being led by Clare County Council, in conjunction with Limerick City Council and Limerick County Council.
Mr. Tiernan noted that the proposed scheme will provide a range of benefits for the north side of Limerick City, South East Clare and the region in general.
He continued: “Once completed, the scheme will improve accessibility to the city from County Clare and will relieve pressure on the existing river crossings in Limerick City. It also will provide significantly improved connectivity between areas located along and in relatively close proximity to the route, and will facilitate the opening up of industrial, commercial, educational and employment opportunities and good quality access to same. In general, it will be a key foundation stone to facilitate balanced development across south east Clare, the north side of Limerick City and the mid-west region as a whole. It will incorporate high quality facilities for a variety of users including motorists, public transport, cyclists and pedestrians.”
Commenting on the public consultation process which led to the acceptance of a Preferred Route Corridor, Mr. Tiernan stated: “The extensive public engagement which evolved during the process was very constructive and as a result a number of issues warranted further analysis and re-examination. Ultimately when all of the information, data and analysis which had evolved prior to the commencement of the public consultation process was considered in association with all of the submissions made and issues raised during the process, the outcome to emerge was that the most appropriate Route Corridor for the LNDR Phase 2 is that which was put before the public for comment.”
Clare County Council received approval from the Department of Transport to commence the constraints identification and route selection process pertaining to the project in August, 2010 following which Consultants, Roughan & O’Donovan were appointed to implement the Brief in this regard. In the early stages, the overall area within which the project would eventually materialise (the Constraints Study Area) was identified and comment was invited from members of the general public in relation to this through publication of press and website notices.
Following on from this, a period which involved the gathering of relevant information and data and the analysis of constraints which were emerging lead to a public consultation event which was held in the Greenhills Hotel, Limerick, in June 2011.
According to Mr. Tiernan: “A number of feasible route options were proposed at the June event and the feedback received through the public consultation period which followed was of great assistance in the evolving next stage which would lead to the proposal of an emerging Preferred Route Corridor.”
“The emerging Preferred Route Corridor was ultimately proposed at a public consultation event in the Radisson Hotel, Limerick, on January 18th, 2012. This event was attended by approximately 450 people and the level of interest in the project through the consultation period which followed resulted in extension of the period from one to almost four months. Ultimately the public consultation period concluded on May 11th 2012,” he concluded.
The “Limerick Northern Distributor Road Route Corridor Selection Report” will be available to view on the Clare County Council, Limerick County Council and Limerick City Council websites from Friday, September 21st, 2012.