CONSTRUCTION on a €100m revamp of the Dunkettle Interchange could begin in the coming weeks if a target price can be agreed between the State and the contractor that will build it.
In response to a parliamentary question from Fianna Fáil, Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) confirmed that it is in the final stages of tendering for phase one of the project, the preparatory works in advance of major construction.
Proposals for the interchange, which is the busiest in Cork, include the creation of a series of slip roads to make it free-flowing for thousands of vehicles each day. It is currently finalising the costs with developers Sisk before the contract is agreed, and expects the process to conclude in the weeks ahead.
A letter from the TII read:
“The Dunkettle Interchange construction contract is a standard New Engineering Contract (NEC) under which a successful tenderer/contractor is appointed initially for the first of a two-stage process.
“The first stage is to prepare the site, carry out enabling works, develop a design for the scheme, including the traffic management, and establish a target cost for construction.
“This target cost must be agreed in advance of proceeding to stage two, which is the construction of the project.
“Advance works have been carried out, the contractor’s design has been finalised and quantified and works are currently progressing on the establishment of the target cost.
“If the parties agree on a target cost with the stage one contractor, construction can commence, subject to the necessary approvals as required under the public spending code.
“Alternatively, if the parties cannot agree a target cost, stage two will be retendered. It is anticipated that the stage one process will be concluded in the coming weeks.”
Fianna Fáil TD Michael McGrath said that he was concerned that there was no firm commitment to starting the project in the letter.
“There has undoubtedly been a delay in the awarding of the main contract for the upgrade of the Dunkettle Interchange.
“Despite this, the government is refusing to give specific answers as to when the project will get underway. The most recent reply I received from TII is deeply worrying.
“It contains no commitment to proceed with the project.
“It is obvious that serious difficulties have emerged between TII and the stage one contractor Sisk in agreeing a target cost for the main contract,” he said.
Mr McGrath said that he is also concerned over how escalating costs on other projects might affect Dunkettle if it does not commence soon.
“It is understood the cost of the Dunkettle project has risen to well in excess of €100m.
“This delay in proceeding with the project comes at the same time as the government is looking for savings in its capital budget as a result of the massive overruns with the Children’s Hospital and the National Broadband Plan.
“More than 100,000 vehicles use the Dunkettle interchange every day.
“Everyone who travels through the Dunkettle interchange understands how vital this project is for Cork.
“In that regard, the evasive and non-committal nature of the replies from government is of concern.
“Given that the construction work will take some three years, this contract needs to be put in place as quickly as possible so that the major construction phase can get underway,” he said.