THE University of Limerick has unveiled plans to create a new access link road from the Clare campus to Gillogue, Clonlara in a bid to address existing inadequate road infrastructure for thousands of staff and students entering the facility from the region.
A presentation given to Clare county councillors this week also highlighted the importance of fast-tracking the completion of the long-awaited Northern Distributor Relief Road, to link in with proposals for a new upgraded road network entering and exiting the Clare campus.
An Taoiseach Brian Cowen is due to visit the University of Limerick next week to launch a new partnership with NUIG, which is expected to be officially announced this Thursday.
Officials at the university are also keen that a link be provided to the N18 Limerick to Galway Road.
Killaloe Electoral Area chairman Pat Hayes, councillors Joe Cooney, Pat Burke, Michael Begley, Cathal Crowe and Pascal Fitzgerald were given a tour of the new buildings on the Clare campus onTuesday.
Details of the extensive development on the Clare campus were also outlined in a presentation provided by officials of the university’s development committee.
From humble beginnings in 1972 when 25 students attended lectures in Plassey House on an overall complex of about 70 acres, today, in the region of 11,500 students attend the campus, which extends to 336 acres.
Most of the new development is being concentrated on the Clare side of the River Shannon. The university also stressed that the continued expansion of the Clare campus is dependant on the provision of the Northern Distributor Road, as the current restricted access from the Garraun Road isn’t capable of taking the required volumes of traffic.
The university confirmed it will provide a significant entrance to the campus in County Clare at least on a par with the Limerick entrance.
Officials are anxious that the River Shannon would be used as a focus for integrated development, which would be environmentally friendly with high-quality landscaping. New developments will be no higher than five or six storeys high and all main facilities should be within 500m of each other to facilitate staff and student interaction.
Councillor Crowe appealed to public representatives in Clare and Limerick to support a renewed drive to secure a definite line for the Northern Distributor Road.
He suggested the provision of a new park-and-ride facility at Gillogue should be considered in the long term and proposed a swipe card system should be introduced as an interim measure to facilitate access for Clare staff and students onto the Clare campus, to avoid a four-mile round trip to the entrance on the Limerick side.
Councillor Pascal Fitzgerald said funding should be allocated by the Government to proceed with the development of the Northern Relief Road as quickly as possible.
“The amount of development on the Clare side is huge and it was a real eye-opener. I am confident that Clare County Council will work in partnership with the university to proceed with future developments,” he said.