Local TD Joe Carey has called on Transport Minister Eamon Ryan to immediately reinstate road works on a “critical project” for Clare, Limerick and the entire Mid-West region.

Deputy Carey wrote to the minister and Green Party leader after he halted the development of the Coonagh – Knockalisheen Northern Distributor Road connecting the south eastern part of the county with Limerick city.

The local Fine Gael TD’s intervention followed a huge public backlash locally to reports Minister Ryan stalled the €58 million project, promised in the National Development Plan, because he favours a rail option over the road scheme.

Deputy Carey wrote: “This is a critical project for the Mid-West Region, South East Clare, Limerick City and is also a central element of the Limerick Regeneration Programme.

“The estimated cost of the project is €58 million and as you will be aware considerable preparatory works have already taken place resulting in €19 million being expended on advance work contracts, land acquisition, planning and design and archaeology. This year €5 million has been allocated by your Department for the further development of Coonagh – Knockalisheen.”

Deputy Carey said the Coonagh – Knockalisheen project is vital for the “continued expansion of Limerick Institute of Technology”, in particular for the planned development of the college’s Coonagh Campus. The Clarecastle-based TD said the road will also “dramatically enhance the attractiveness of the area for additional educational and employment opportunities”.

He urged Minister Ryan to sign off the tender for the project “without further delay”.

Some €19 million of taxpayers has already been spent on the road project, which Deputy Carey is a “major priority” for Clare and Limerick councils. It is also seen as a vital investment cog in the regeneration of the Moyross area.

Deputy Carey added: “It is time for common sense to prevail. This project is an important step towards addressing economic inequality in the Mid-West and a huge amount of energy – not to mention an investment of almost €20 million of taxpayers’ money – has been pumped into the scheme.

“I strongly urge Minister Ryan not to let all of the time, money and effort to go to waste and to deliver on the commitment to finish the Coonagh – Knockalisheen road as soon as possible.”