Cork TD: Dunkettle delays could have serious consequences

Cork TD: Dunkettle delays could have serious consequences
Dunkettle Interchange 

FEARS are rising that soaring costs at the Dunkettle Interchange upgrade could delay the project by up to two years and cause knock-on consequences for other major infrastructure projects in Cork.

In recent days, Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) has declined an invitation to appear before the Joint Committee on Transport Tourism and Sport to address speculation on the project.

The move has exacerbated the concerns of Cork TD Kevin O’Keeffe, vice chair of that committee, who is demanding answers.

Between 80,000 and 100,000 vehicles use the congested interchange every day and the long-awaited upgrade will help address traffic coming from the east and northeast into Cork city and the South Ring Road.

The interchange upgrade was originally to cost €100m, but the price has already risen to €115m, with concerns that it could go even higher.

The TII is engaged in ongoing talks regarding costs with the contractors undertaking works on phase one of the project. The talks are part of a procurement process for the second stage of the project.

Cork TD Kevin O’Keeffe, vice-chair of the transport committee, told The Echo that the contract for the project may have to be retendered if an agreement isn’t reached which could set the project back approximately two years.

The TII said it has abstained from making any public pronouncements on the process of awarding a contract as talks are at a “sensitive stage” and this would risk the security of the ongoing “commercially sensitive” process.

However, Mr O’Keeffe said the TII should appear before the committee and talk about the initial cost estimates of the project.

“Things are very serious,” he said. “The contract could be set back by two years if things don’t go right.

“The TII is refusing to come before the committee because it is in a delicate situation of talking to the contractor. We should be fairly informed of what went wrong in the initial stage. We can always avoid talk on the contractor and talk about what went wrong with the original allocation. Did TII get their figures wrong?

“The cost has gone up. This could delay the process by two years. There is talk that if they don’t reach an agreement [with the contractors] the whole process will have to be retendered.

“There is a touch of the National Children’s Hospital about this. The Government doesn’t seem to have a handle on this,” Mr O’Keeffe added.

Any delay on the Dunkettle Interchange could have serious consequences for other large-scale infrastructure projects coming down the line in Cork, warned Mr O’Keeffe.

“Usually, when there are big contracts given out they divide the spoils [around the country].

“There are hardly going to be three or four major contracts going in the south at the one time,” Mr O’Keeffe said.

“Will the M20 or the Macroom Bypass lose out because the Dunkettle Interchange is delayed? This is the biggest concern I have.

“It’s only fair the TII come before us and allay some of the fears.

“The design of this thing was known for two years and we were told last year by the minister [for transport] that everything was going to schedule and all of a sudden everything stops and nobody is putting their hand up,” Mr O’Keeffe added.

More in this section

Sponsored Content