The mayors of both Clare and Limerick have expressed their shock and concern that the Limerick Northern distributor road (LNDR) has been excluded from a major revised transport plan for the Limerick and Shannon metropolitan areas.
The road is already under construction at the Coonagh and Knockalisheen areas on the north side of Limerick city. It is planned to eventually link up with the industrial zones and the University of Limerick on the eastern side of the city.
It has been omitted from the revised Limerick Shannon Metropolitan Area Transport Strategy (LSMATS) at the request of Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan.
The strategy sets out targets for the integration and development of public and smart transport over the next 18 years.
It aims to develop the area as the economic core of the midwest and as an environmentally sustainable and unified metropolitan area. It particularly aims to radically improve walking and cycling infrastructure, supported by rail and road, where they contribute to the overall sustainability objectives.
However, in the document, Mr Ryan has requested the National Transport Authority not to include the LNDR in the new plan, on the basis that proceeding with it would be contrary to the wider national planning framework's objective of compact growth and that it would undermine the investment planned in active and public travel.
Instead, the minister has requested that the focus of transport investment for Limerick in the coming years should be on improving active travel infrastructure, delivering Bus Connects and expanding the rail service.
Phase One of the distributor road is already under construction and will provide more access in and out of the Moyross area, but the completion of the project must now go out to tender again, after the company building it, Roadbridge, went into receivership in March.
Mayor of Clare PJ Ryan said he is shocked at the omission of the remainder, or phase two, of what is regarded as an important piece of road infrastructure.
"I believe it's a serious mistake to exclude it. You cannot have one half of a road built going nowhere. You have 3,500 people coming into the University of Limerick every morning, and there are plans to actually increase the student population at UL," Mr Ryan said.
"You cannot put thousands of people coming into Limerick from Clare and Tipperary on bicycles. This is not Beijing," he added.
Mayor of Limerick Daniel Butler said he is concerned about the omission of the distributor road in terms of its impact on Limerick's ability to deliver active travel infrastructure.
"In particular, there is concern around the dangerous levels of congestion at the Mackey roundabout, which is a key junction for access to UL and to Plassey Technological Park and the Castletroy area, with continued growth of jobs and student numbers expected," Mr Butler said.
"And it also has serious implications for bottlenecks in the Corbally area on the eastern side of the city.
The LSMATS has set out ambitious plans to increase the rail network and the frequency of services on the Ennis and Nenagh/Ballybrophey lines, and the construction of new stations at Moyross and Ballysimon in Limerick.
It is also the intention of the National Transport Authority to re-open the Foynes Limerick line - which has been closed since 2001 - as a freight line, so that the country's deepest port can be connected to the national rail network.
The revised transport strategy will now be subject to further public consultation until 10 June next.