Transport body to be questioned on Dunkettle Interchange costs

Transport body to be questioned on Dunkettle Interchange costs
Dunkettle Interchange Dunkettle Roundabout. Pictures by Tom Coakley

TDs and senators will be allowed to quiz Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) on spiralling costs at the Dunkettle Interchange.

The state agency performed a u-turn on its rejection of an invitation to appear before the Joint Committee on Transport Tourism and Sport and has now confirmed that it will field questions on the project.

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 and declined the original invitation due to the “commercially sensitive” nature of the deal.

However, TII CEO Michael Nolan has now informed the Oireachtas that the TII will appear before the committee tomorrow (Wednesday).

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.

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

“There is talk that if they don’t reach an agreement [with the contractors] the whole process will have to be retendered,” he 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," Mr O'Keeffe added.

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.

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