COMMENT & ANALYSIS: A greenway for walking and cycling is planned for the Royal Canal in Dublin City, but why and, even, how is it set to cost €10-€12 million? That’s one question always asked with urban greenway projects like this. Another which is worth answering first is: Why not fix commuter routes first?
The Royal Canal Greenway is an important one for many reasons. It will link residential areas of Dublin City and its commuter belt of Dublin 15 (and further out) to the high-density employment area that is the Dublin Docklands, and less directly to parts of different parts of the city centre. Unlike many greenways, this one does serve commuters.
As a greenway it is part of Ireland’s first cross-country route, from Dublin to Galway. And it will make up part of the EuroVelo 2 route.http://www.eurovelo.com/en/eurovelos/eurovelo-2
But… Why will it cost so much?
It’s not a case of just adding a simple layer of tarmac to the current paths. While tarmac will be added in places — foundations will likely also need to be widened, and strengthened.
But that’s a fraction of the overall cost, which includes a network of CCTV cameras, lighting along the route, drainage, and road crossings — it all add up. On top of that you have landscaping, and street furniture such as benches and bicycle racks.
However, per single item cost, far ahead of all of the above is likely going to be the cost of new bridges and ramps. New or more cycling-friendly ramps from the canal towpath to road level will be needed at a number of locations. Underpass space, where in place in the central sections, is unsuitably low and narrow, and mostly non-existent.
New bridges will be needed. One of the largest ones will cross a railway between the Docklands and North Strand Road. This section of the route is currently wasteland and will be upgraded into a park — adding to the overall cost.
It should also be mentioned that there are higher costs working in urban environments and higher again working near water and sensitive natural environments. This route has it all — a functioning canal, wildlife, and crossing major streets and roads.
So, is it all worth it?
The answer is most likely yes because the cost–benefit analysis of cycling projects is generally great compared to other projects — the benefits outweigh the costs. In this case, there’s a lot of benefits: improved health of users; providing for commuter local and regional travel with very low environmental impact; providing for mobility between high-density areas of Dublin; and providing for local and national tourism.