CORK Chamber has said lower traffic volumes due to the Covid-19 pandemic create an opportunity to accelerate work on the Dunkettle Interchange project.
The comments, from CEO Conor Healy, come as it was confirmed in recent days that a contractor is due to be appointed to undertake the construction section of the project shortly.
It follows a setback that occurred last year, resulting in a significant delay to the project.
Contractors Sisk were originally awarded a NEC3 contract. The company carried out preliminary work and designs on the project, including details on how the construction would take place.
However, within that type of contract there is a stipulation that the State could seek new tenders if the contractor and TII could not agree on a price for the construction phase of the project.
It was confirmed in August 2019 that an agreement couldn’t be reached by both parties, and the project was tendered, this time as a Design-Build contract.
That means that the design and logistics of the build and the process of traffic management, among other issues, are already worked out, and the contractor that’s awarded the tender this month can move forward with construction.
Conor Healy, CEO of Cork Chamber said: “The time to deliver the Dunkettle Interchange is now and it is essential that a final investment decision is made without delay. Following a frustrating setback 12 months ago when the project was retendered, the time is right to now take this investment forward and enable the Cork Metropolitan Area Transport Strategy.
“The project will provide countercyclical support for our construction sector and is essential for the region’s long-term development.”
He continued: “In normal times, the interchange is the busiest outside of Dublin carrying over 100,000 vehicles per day. Quite practically, there is an opportunity to accelerate work while traffic volumes are lower and disruption to business and commuters can be minimised.
“The project will, for the first time, enable cyclists and pedestrians to safely traverse the junction. It is essential that the complementary greenways through Glanmire and Carrigtwohill are completed urgently and in parallel to facilitate sustainable local movement and mid-distance cycle commuting.
“Furthermore, enhanced bus access to Little Island creates the opportunity to offer a credible bus service finally adding some modal diversity for businesses and communities in the area.”