Limerick City and County Council have commenced the procurement of Engineering Consultancy Services for a proposed new road linking the Port of Foynes with the M7/N18 at Limerick city. The N69 national secon-dary road currently con-nects Foynes to Limerick along 32km of single carriageway. However, the Foynes to Limerick Road Improvement Scheme will provide improved access to the Port of Foynes and support the envisaged expansion of its capacity and usage as outlined in the government’s National Ports Policy 2013. Upgrading the road infrastructure to the Port of Foynes from Limerick is also a key recommendation in the Shannon Foynes Port Company master-plan Vision 2041, published earlier this year.

Cllr John Sheahan, Cathaoirleach of Limerick County Council, welcomed the announcement, saying: “This road scheme and the expansion of the Port of Foynes have the potential to support sustainable economic growth and deliver employment for Limerick and the midwest region. I acknowledge that this project is at a very early stage, but I am heartened that despite the economic downturn invest-ment in new transport infrastructure continues to be made. Quality connec-tivity to our ports, airports and major urban areas is critical for all regions of Ireland.”

Welcoming the announce-ment by Limerick City and County Council, the Chief Executive of Shannon Foynes Port Company, Pat Keating, said that the dev-elopment of the high-quality road between Foynes and Limerick would be a “game-chan-ging” moment for the port company.

“This commitment is one of the most important dev-elopments in the history of Shannon Foynes Port Company.  Its benefits will be felt not just by the Port Company but by the wider region as this road is a central piece to facilitate our plans for very signifi-cant economic growth along the Shannon Estuary.

“We are planning to double tonnage at our ports and anticipate significant job creation on the estuary over the next 30 years.  We have signalled that two key pieces of infrastructure are critical for this to happen.  One is the regeneration of the rail link to Foynes, which we are actively seeking to advance, and the other is the develop-ment of a quality road link to Limerick.”

According to Paul Crowe, Director, Travel and Transportation, Limerick City and County Council: “The first major stage in the process has commenced with the advertisement for consultants to progress the scheme through route selection, design and statutory procedures. It is expected that consultants will be appointed later this year with a preferred route selected in 2014. A major consultation process with the public, landowners and other key stakeholders will be undertaken.”