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A former Mayor of Clare has accused the Minister for Transport of “dithering” regarding the progression of the Limerick Northern Distributor Road (LNDR).

Providing a transport link between the eastern and western fringes of Limerick City and a link to South Clare to facilitate economic development in this region has been listed as a fundamental objective of the LNDR. The second phase of the LNDR was not included as a priority in this year’s Budget.

Design and construction of approximately 10km of a €45m distributor road from Coonagh to Knockalisheen which will tie in with the R445 (Old N7) in County Limerick will also include a crossing of the Ardnacrusha Tailrace and the River Shannon, with possible crossings of the Blackwater and Mulkear Rivers.

Improved accessibility between Clare and Limerick City along with reliving pressure on the existing river crossing in the City Centre is proposed under the scheme. The need for the scheme was identified in The Limerick Planning, Land Use and Transportation Study for Greater Limerick prepared by Clare County Council, Tipperary North County Council and Limerick City and County Councils.

The Fitzgerald Report Addressing the issues of Social Exclusion in Moyross and other disadvantaged areas of Limerick City (April 2007) has recommended that a distributor road to the north of Limerick City be progressed to develop economic activity and end the isolation of this deprived area.

Access to the South Clare Strategic Development Zone (SDZ) which would become Europe’s first 21 century University town will also be aided by the LNDR. An application for the SDZ is expected to be finalised in the first quarter of 2021 with legal teams for local authorities in Clare and Limerick “working through complex legal details”.

Speaking at a recent meeting of the Shannon Municipal District, Cllr Michael Begley (IND) noted that the LNDR was “dithering” at the hands of Minister for Transport, Eamon Ryan (GP). “I’m wondering what impact would that have on the SDZ project given the huge emphasis on the LNDR on that”.

Director of Economic Development, Liam Conneally explained, “Phase one is crucial to the commencement of the build-out of the LNDR which in turn is crucial to the SDZ. We are working with our colleagues in Limerick who are leading on stage one of the LNDR construction to push things on. I know Carmel Kirby has been providing all of the justification that she needs in terms of phase one and other phases of the LNDR. We need both from an Executive and political perspective to keep pushing in terms of the importance of the LNDR for our Municipal District and Clare”.

“It is very imp that the LNDR goes ahead, there seems to be a bit of a slowness at the minute, it has been going on for a few years. It seems the contract has been awarded to somebody else. It is a very important piece of infrastructure in the area, one of the most essential things is the Limerick drainage pipework needs to be extended beyond it to facilitate drainage problems in Meelick,” Cllr PJ Ryan (IND) commented.

Any plans must recall the opening of the gate at the back of the University of Limerick by Gillogue Bridge “and the mayhem it caused,” Cllr Pat O’Gorman (FF) stated.

Minister Ryan has said he is considering the project as part of a review into the National Development Plan. “The Minister believes investment in local rail could provide much improved connectivity for people across Limerick,” a spokesperson for the Department of Transport outlined. Limerick TD, Brian Leddin (GP) added, “People are expecting something to happen very quickly but what the Minister is saying is that a better plan can be produced”.

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