Concerns over cost halt €20m north Dublin city cycle path
Irish Water, Dublin City Council and NTA fail to agree on Clontarf to city scheme
The path, designed to connect the city centre with the Dublin Bay cycle path that runs along the coast from Clontarf to Sutton, was first planned more than eight years ago but has been delayed several times. Photograph: Cathy Loughran
The development of a €20 million cycle path from Fairview to Connolly Station in Dublin has been halted amid funding and design disputes between Dublin City Council, the National Transport Authority (NTA) and Irish Water.
The path, designed to connect the city centre with the Dublin Bay cycle path that runs along the coast from Clontarf to Sutton, was first planned more than eight years ago but has been delayed several times, most notably following a 2017 campaign to save trees in Fairview park.
The council in June said it was weeks away from seeking contractors to build the path which would provide safe, segregated facilities on what is one of the most heavily used routes for cyclists accessing the city centre.
However, it now says it has to redesign the scheme due to a failure to reach funding agreements with Irish Water and the refusal of the NTA to sanction bus diversions during construction.
The cycle path had in 2017 been expected to cost €7 million. Last year revised costs of €20 million were published by the council following design changes and the decision to include extensive water mains replacement and new sewerage systems in the project.
However, the council says funding discussions with Irish Water have “failed to reach a satisfactory conclusion” and the NTA has asked it to “de-scope all water main renewals from the project” which will require redesigns.
Traffic management plan
The NTA has also refused to agree to the diversion of a number of outbound buses during the construction phase, which could last up to two years, the council said. Instead the council will have to remove proposed temporary cycle lanes, with cyclists “required to use the bus lanes during the construction works,”. This will require a revised traffic management plan, it said.
The NTA also wants the council to change a previously agreed 5cm difference between the level of the footpath and the cycle path to 6cm. “Although this may seem like a minor change, due to the complexity of the scheme, this change will have knock-on effects on the design of construction elements such as earthworks and drainage, as well as requiring an update in the complex 3D model that has been developed for the contractor,” the council said.
In addition, a section of the scheme in Fairview Park needs to be narrowed to protect mature trees.
As a consequence of all these changes the business case for the project will need to be revised “in order to calculate the correct benefit-cost ratio” the council said.
Green Party councillor Donna Cooney said she was “extremely disappointed” by the setback to the project. “We have been given no indication of how long this project will be delayed by, it just keeps being pushed out.”
Irish Water said it was “prioritising work that delivers the greatest water savings where they are needed most”. It had assessed the Clontarf project but determined “other areas are at greater risk at this time”.
A spokesman for the NTA said the bus diversions would have had a “major impact on bus users”. It was “appropriate” the scheme details would be reviewed given the “significantly increased” costs, and he expected a request for tenders would issue before the end of the year.
The cycle route was first proposed in 2012. Redesigns undertaken from 2015-2017 involved felling of 50 trees in Fairview Park. The latest scheme sees most of these trees protected. Along the full length of the route 86 trees will be removed and 133 trees will be planted.