THE National Roads Authority (NRA) has said it will announce its preferred option for a multi-million euro upgrade of the Jack Lynch Tunnel /Dunkettle roundabout junction by the new year or early January.
Last summer, the NRA held a public display at the Radisson Blu hotel in Little Island at which its engineers exhibited five options to upgrade what is the busiest road junction outside Dublin.
The main Dublin-Cork N8, the N25 to Wexford and the N28 to Ringaskiddy port all converge on the junction.
The NRA has repeatedly stated the junction is at capacity and needs to be upgraded urgently.
The authority has previously objected to a number of projects in the area, including O’Flynn Construction’s 1,000-plus house plan for Dunkettle — on the grounds the extra traffic it would generate would put too much pressure on the junction.
NRA spokesman Sean O’Neill said the authority was continuing to have discussions about the upgrade with Cork City Council and Cork County Council.
"We expect to make public our preferred design in December of January," Mr O’Neill said.
One of the five upgrade options could cost €100 million.
Meanwhile, a developer who wants to build a park-and-ride facility a few hundred metres from the tunnel may face an uphill battle to get planning permission for the facility as a result of the junction reconfiguration
The developer has applied to Cork County Council for outline permission for the facility on land he owns near the former Ibis Hotel, which is now a gaelscoil,
However, it is possible that his land might be subsumed under compulsory purchase orders for a series of new slip roads which may be created in the area as part of the junction upgrade.
A couple of years ago the NRA successfully objected to plans by Iarnród Éireann to build a park and ride at Dunkettle on the grounds that it might need the earmarked land to upgrade the junction.
Mr O’Neill said as far as the NRA was concerned until the preferred option was chosen "it was paramount to protect the functionality of the interchange".