Limerick’s infrastructure: Road, rail, and ports
The renewed National Development Plan (NDP) set out a series of significant infrastructure priorities out to 2030.
In October 2021, the Government launched the renewed National Development Plan to 2030, a planned €165 billion investment, recognised as the largest in the State’s history. Outlining a focus on priority solutions to target challenges in housing, healthcare, and the climate; the plan also seeks to secure job growth in every region and deliver economic renewal for the decade ahead.
Although many of the initiatives aimed at Limerick are retained from the previous iteration of the plan, a review of priority projects has seen changes to those initial ambitions, as well as fresh impetus on other projects of note.
An outline of significant NDP projects affecting Limerick include:
Initially touted as a potential motorway between the State’s second and third largest cities, Cork and Limerick, the N/M20 Cork has been a long-standing proposal to better connect the two cities by improving the transport network and improving safety above the existing N20 route.
The renewed NDP has marked the project as “subject to further approvals”, with the project still being shaped through consultation. Rather than a motorway, most recent plans suggest 80km of new and improved dual carriageway road between Cork city and Patrickswell that will provide bypasses of Mallow, Buttevant, and Charleville, with an estimated cost of between €1 and 1.5 billion.
Other proposed national road projects, which were part of the previous NDP and are now subject to further approvals include: The N21/N69 Limerick to Foynes road (Adare bypass); the N21 Newcastle West Bypass and the N21 Abbeyfeale Bypass.
The N21/N69 Limerick to Foynes road (Adare bypass) in particular is featured as part of a commitment to improve access to the Port of Foynes. A jetty expansion program at Shannon Foynes Port was outlined for completion this year, however, in March 2022, Shannon Foynes Port announced its intention to invest €28 million in new infrastructure as part of a plan to turn the Shannon Estuary into an international hub for floating offshore wind generation.
Alongside plans to expand jetty infrastructure, the project is set to include the development of one of the country’s largest logistics buildings.
Funding over the 10 years is set to support the further development of commuter rail in both Limerick and Galway, including the development of a new Limerick commuter rail network, including new stations on each of the historical rail lines.
The revised draft Limerick Shannon Metropolitan Area Transport Strategy (LSMATS) was published in April 2022, launching a second round of public consultation for LSMATS, having originally been consulted on in 2020.
The strategy proposed the examination of a dual track between Limerick Colbert and Limerick Junction stations, alongside:
• a new rail station at Moyross as demand for travel increases in line with the regeneration of this area;
• a new rail station at Ballysimon, including park and ride;
• complete the redevelopment of Colbert rail and bus station; and
• an investigation into the potential for rail freight in support of the proposed Regional Freight Strategy, including the reinstatement of the line between Limerick and the Port of Foynes.
Outside of rail, the LSMATS also boasts a new vision for transport in the area, including a greater focus on sustainable land use planning and specific transport measures to support Limerick regeneration.
Included in the suggestions is a 184km cycling network linking all major origins and destinations within the area and an inter-urban network connecting Limerick city and metropolitan town centres and a detailed BusConnects proposal.
The NDP committed to €1 billion in flood risk management, including funding through the OPW for the Limerick City and Environs Flood Relief Scheme. Limerick City and County Council commissioned the scheme in May 2021, with ground investigation works commencing in April 2022 and expected to last until September 2022. Construction of the project is not expected to start until 2026, with handover expected in 2031.