NTA rules out MetroLink tunnel extension

Tunnel through Ranelagh ‘obvious solution’, says Labour’s Kevin Humphreys

 Kevin Humphreys, Labour TD:   ‘It is far too early to rule the tunnel option out”.

Kevin Humphreys, Labour TD: ‘It is far too early to rule the tunnel option out”.

 

The National Transport Authority (NTA) has ruled out putting more of the proposed MetroLink underground, following complaints about the number of road closures the existing plan will cause.

The authority is to revise plans for its preferred rail route, which was published last March, ahead of the publication of a revised alignment for the line next month.

However, there has been strong criticism of the draft plan from politicians and local residents’ groups, who have warned that the works will affect schools and roads on both sides of the Liffey.

The €3 billion MetroLink project included a proposal to establish a major infrastructural construction site on GAA and school grounds in Glasnevin. The preferred route, which will run from Swords to Sandyford serving Dublin Airport and the city centre, also required the closure of a road linking Rathmines and Ranelagh in south Dublin.

Last May, NTA chief executive Anne Graham said the authority would consider an “alternative option” to the use of the Na Fianna GAA club and adjoining school pitches on Mobhi Road as the construction site. She was responding to recent comments by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar who said the proposals would cause “enormous damage” to the schools and sports clubs that use the land.

Change of plans

It has emerged in recent days that, following pressure from politicians on the southside of the city, the NTA is set to change its plans to close Dunville Avenue in Ranelagh,where it said it needed to remove a level crossing to segregate the MetroLink from traffic.

However, in a letter to Labour senator Kevin Humphreys in recent days, NTA deputy chief executive Hugh Creegan said it did not plan to move the rail line underground as a solution.

The preferred route would see the line start above ground north of Swords at Lissenhall before entering a tunnel at Fosterstown, south of Swords. The line would continue underground until it reached the Charlemont Luas stop, south of Ranelagh, where it would emerge and run above ground to Sandyford along the route of the current Luas Green line.

Several groups have called for the line to remain underground through Ranelagh to prevent the closure of Dunville Avenue to traffic at the Beechwood stop as well as the removal of a surface level pedestrian link at the Cowper stop near Dartry.

In a letter responding to concerns raised by Mr Humphreys, Mr Creegan said the tunnel “will not go any further south than the current Charlemont stop”.

Cost-effective option

However, Mr Humphreys said this option should not be removed from consideration. “It is far too early to rule the tunnel option out, when you weigh up the costs of extending the tunnel against the impact on traffic, the impact on residents, and the economic costs arising from increasing traffic congestion, the tunnel could emerge as the most cost-effective option.”

It is understood the NTA is considering either an elevated rail track or a vehicular underpass on Dunville Avenue instead of closing the road, but Mr Humphreys said that even this would cause excessive disturbance for the community.

“We would be talking about closing the road for up to two years, instead of taking the obvious solution of the tunnel.”

The NTA will publish its review of the route next month.