Dáil Éireann - Volume 591 - 02 November, 2004

Written Answers. - Road Network.

  137. Mr. R. Bruton asked the Minister for Transport if he has made a final decision regarding whether the height of the Dublin Port tunnel should be raised; if not, when he expects this decision will be finally made; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27019/04]

  Mr. Cullen:I announced on 21 October 2004 that the operational height of the Dublin Port tunnel will not be changed. My decision was based primarily on safety grounds but cost and time delays to the opening of the project were also factors.

The options for increasing the height of the tunnel were considered by the National Roads Authority, NMI Consortium, by independent consultants, Atkins, and by Dublin City Council. In addition, the contractor priced the work that would be involved in increasing the height of the tunnel. It was clear from this work that raising the height of the tunnel would not be justified having regard to a number of factors, including safety considerations relating to reducing lane widths which would, in the context of a tunnel carrying a very high percentage of heavy goods vehicles, including fuel tankers and other hazardous cargoes, constitute a reduction in overall tunnel safety. It is intuitively apparent that wider traffic lanes offer greater vehicle separation than narrower lanes. Another safety consideration relates to increasing the kerb height. It is apparent, on both an engineering and intuitive basis, that a 150 mm kerb must represent a safer provision than a 200 mm kerb height. It is the NRA’s position that the lower kerb height is preferable from a safety perspective. A further safety consideration relates to the overheight HGVs on the existing national road network and the implications of facilitating higher vehicles through the tunnel than the national motorway and road network can safely accommodate. Bridges and other structures on the motorways and national roads are not designed to cater for vehicles higher than the current tunnel height and safety concerns would arise over the discharge of any such vehicles from a revised tunnel onto the national road network. Additional cost and delay factors include a potential additional cost of at least €33 million and up to €65 million and seven months delay or more to completion of the tunnel.

Question No. 138 answered with Question No. 124.