Dunkettle Interchange upgrade to be delayed by 12 months
TII says it has failed to reach agreement on cost with contractor Sisk
It is now anticipated the contract for the construction works will be awarded in 2020 with sectional openings scheduled to take place in 2022 with full completion in 2023.
Sisk won the contract for the upgrade of the Dunkettle Interchange in June 2018 but the contract included a provision that if TII and the contractor did not agree a price on the main construction works, then TII could go back to the market place and seek new tenders.
Today in a statement, TII and Sisk confirmed that agreement had not been reached between the parties in keeping with the terms of the contract which required that the forecasted costs must be agreed prior to proceeding with the main construction works.
According to the statement, TII and Sisk “remain committed to advancing the project” but informed sources have told The Irish Times that the decision to activate this aspect of the contract and put it back out to tender will delay by the project by about 12 months.
The project was originally budgeted to cost €100 million when it was first announced in 2011 but The Irish Times has learned that estimates on the cost now vary widely with some putting it at €115 million while others have predicted it may total as much as €170 million.
The work involves putting in place an interchange just north of the Jack Lynch Tunnel to allow traffic travelling north-south on the M8 and traffic travelling east-west on the N25 move freely in either direction freely with slip roads providing links between both major arteries.
The interchange is currently used by about 100,000 vehicles per day and the proposed upgrade, which will result in the removal of the current signalized system operating on a roundabout on the northern exit of the Jack Lynch Tunnel, is designed to cater for future growth up to 2050.
It is now anticipated the contract will be awarded in 2020 with sectional openings scheduled to take place in 2022 with full completion in 2023.
However Fianna Fáil Leader and TD for Cork South Central Micheál Martin has expressed his frustration at the news . He said he it called into question the manner in which the whole project had been handled.
“Today’s announcement by TII is deeply frustrating for commuters across Cork. More than 100,000 cars pass through the Dunkettle junction every day and the fact this project is going to be delayed yet again raised serious questions about the way this process has been handled.
“This upgrade was promised over five years ago but has been plagued by missed deadlines and increasing costs. The Transport Minister, Shane Ross must clarify the degree to which he believes savings will be made as a result of this decision,” he said.
Mr Martin said that Minister for Transport Ross should also explain how such a vital piece of infrastructure in Cork could be allowed “to reach this sorry stage when red flags had been raised at various stages of the process.”
“This project has been the victim of this government’s record of making large scale infrastructure announcements while not having the necessary funding available. Defer and delay has become the order of the day.
“Minister Ross failed to react to the concerns being raised by myself and others. Instead he adopted a hands-off approach and now the project’s end date will be pushed out further.
“We’re now looking at the end of 2023 before the upgrade works will be completed. That’s another three and a half years of commuter chaos for people in Cork.
“Cork is losing out as a result of this government’s complete mismanagement of capital projects”.
Meanwhile Cork Chamber chief executive , Conor Healy said the decision to retender the project will lead to a delay that is “completely unacceptable” and given early Government promises to have the project finished by 2021, many would be skeptical that the 2023 date will be met.
“The result of the decision to retender the project is that economic growth in Ireland’s second city region, a key element of the Ireland 2040 plan, will be held back for another two years at minimum,” he said.
He said that the failure to deliver the Dunkettle Interchange on schedule will have a knock on effect on other strategic infrastructure project such as the M28 access to the Port of Cork in Ringaskiddy where the port is planning a major €80 million container terminal.
It would also have a knock-on effect on public transport access as envisioned in the Cork Metropolitan Area Transport Plan, hundreds of much-needed new housing units in the Glanmire area as well as the lives of the entire commuting population in the region.