Monday 22 August 2011

No ‘big ticket’ item in Mid-West transport plan

AN economic blueprint for the Mid-West is to outline the need for €250 million to be spent on new transport initiatives in the region — but no spend on any "big ticket items" in transport.

Currently, international civil engineering consultancy Mott MacDonald Pettit is preparing a long-term framework for guiding future residential, commercial and industrial development in the Mid-West region.

Anticipated to heavily influence the region’s transportation infrastructure requirements over the course of the next 30 years, the Mid-West Area Strategic Plan (MWASP) is also expected to feed into the Regional Planning Guidelines for the Mid-West Region 2010-2022.

The draft plan is not expected to be published until later this year but, in a document prepared for the members of the Midwest Regional Authority, the consultants state the plan will contain, under transport, no new ‘big ticket items’, but will outline the need for a €250 million investment on transport outside the road network.

The document also notes the need for the completion of the Atlantic Corridor where, currently, the latest €600 million, 57kms phase from Gort to Tuam is on hold due to funding issues. The route was due to commence in the first quarter of this year on a Public Private Partnership (PPP) basis.

According to the document, the new MWASP will also seek a comprehensive review of the future rail corridors under the long term requirement for high speed rail line connectionsbetween Ireland’s cities.

The major planning, land use and transportation strategy for Clare, Limerick city and county and NorthTipperary is also calling for the publication of a National Aviation Policy outlining the role of Shannon Airport in a national context.

The plan will also, as one of its aims, provide for a revision of the public transport system in the Mid-West. There is much emphasison the need to develop a long-term strategic business plan for both Shannon Airport and the Shannon estuary.

The document states the immediate focus of the plan will be to promote Limerick city as the economic driver of the region and to develop Ennis and Shannon as complementary settlements.

Irish Examiner

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