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How does a 5km cycle route cost €10m?

IMAGE: Work on footpath improvements along the route


How does a cycle lane cost so much? It seems mainly because of junction crossing, boardwalks, CCTV, bridges and street water drainage upgrades. Many of which are not directly linked with cycling.

People trying to walk along the canal will see major improvements — the main one being able to cross junctions without having to dodge cars and buses.

The cost of the route from Portobello to Guild Street will come in at around €6m says Ciarán Fallon, the cycling officer at Dublin City Council. The full cost was originally estimated to be around €10. The funding is ring-fenced only for this project by the Department of Transport.

Fallon said: “Nine major junctions are being re-signalised to provide for pedestrians and cyclists. Drainage and public lighting is being upgraded along route. A traffic communications fibre optic cable in being laid and a CCTV system is being installed.”

Pedestrians will see benefits with the installation of toucan crossings (designed for both cyclists and pedestrians) at busy junctions along the Grand Canal from Portobello to the Docklands. Currently much of the route is not signalled for pedestrians. Visual and mobility impaired users should also find the upgraded crossing easer to use.

He continued: “Pinch points on Charlemont Place are being widened by the construction of a retaining wall and a canal boardwalk.” The section between Charlemont Place and Leeson Street Bridge is a pinch point because houses back on to the canal, leaving only a small and heavily used walkway.

Fallon also notes: “There are substantial costs associated with working in proximity with underground services – 10 bar gas distribution main and 220kV electricity.”

Although, it is now unclear what options will be used on the cycle route between the Dockland and Fairview Park, it is understood that bridges made up a substantial cost of up to €4m for the short section. Plans included a tall bridge needed to cross the Royal Canal and railway tracks. Between West Road and Fairview Park there was also planned to be a bridge crossing the River Tolka.

The route is seen as a key part of creating strategic cycle routes along Dublin’s canals and Dublin Bay. Large sections of these routes are already built but are unconnected. The current project from Portobello to Fairview is seen as one of the most expensive sections because it crosses a large number of busy junctions.

The route’s traffic light sequencing between Portobello and the north Docklands will be a deciding factor for many – if travel times are worse than the adjacent roads, faster cyclists will likely avoid the route. But it will provide a friendlier environment for families, newcomers and those not in such a hurry. Fallon says that discussion on the sequencing is ongoing and due to be tested. If all goes well sections could be open before July.

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Cian Ginty

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