To ask the Minister for Transport the position regarding the construction of the Dublin Port Tunnel, particularly in relation to the height of the tunnel, delays in construction, the concerns of local residents and public safety issues.
- Finian McGrath.
For PRIORITY answer on Tuesday, 2nd November, 2004.
Ref No: 27226/04
Answered by the Minister for Transport (Martin Cullen)
I announced on 21st October 2004 that, the operational height of the Dublin Port Tunnel will not be changed. My decision was based primarily on safety grounds but cost and time delays to the opening of the project were also factors.
The options for increasing the height of the tunnel were considered by the National Roads Authority, by independent consultants, Atkins and by Dublin City Council. In addition, the contractor - NMI Consortium- priced the work that would be involved in increasing the height of the tunnel.
It was clear from this work that raising the height of the tunnel would not be justified having regard to safety considerations and additional cost and delay factors.
The safety issues related to:
- reducing lane widths which would, in the context of a tunnel carrying a very high percentage of heavy goods vehicles, including fuel tankers and other hazardous cargos, constitute a reduction in overall tunnel safety - it is intuitively apparent that wider traffic lanes offer greater vehicle separation than narrower lanes;
- increasing the kerb height, it is apparent, on both an engineering and intuitive basis, that a 150mm kerb must represent a safer provision than a 200 mm kerb height. It is the NRA's position that the lower kerb height is preferable from a safety perspective;
- overheight HGVs on the existing national road network and the implications of facilitating higher vehicles through the tunnel than the national motorway and road network can safely accommodate. Bridges and other structures on motorways and national roads are not designed to cater for vehicles higher than the current tunnel height and safety concerns would arise over the discharge of any such vehicles from a revised tunnel onto the national road network.
Increasing the height of the tunnel would give rise to substantial additional cost and delay factors including potential additional cost of at least €33m and up to €65m and 7 months delay or more to completion of the tunnel.
I understand from the NRA that construction of the tunnel is expected to be completed in December 2005.
Extensive arrangements are in place to meet the concerns of local residents about the impact of the project. These were of particular value during the tunnelling which is now complete. These arrangements included pre- and post- construction property surveys, use of vibration monitors to monitor vibration from the works and settlement surveys. Any damage attributable to tunnelling works are covered by a property protection guarantee issued by Dublin City Council. I am informed that over 176 claims have been received, of which 155 are subject to ongoing negotiation, claiming in most cases, minor damage to properties. An independent loss adjustor has assessed or is in the process of assessing these damage reports. I am advised that any verified damage connected with the tunnelling will be made good by Dublin City Council.