One of the reasons Dublin City Council are expected to receive a lower funding allocation for walking and cycling projects is because the tender prices for some projects are “expensive compared to the benefits”, according to Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan.
A week ago, IrishCycle.com reported that council officials said that funding was “currently unavailable” for the permanent Fitzwilliam Cycle Route. Several readers questioned why the National Transport Authority approved the project to go to tender, where companies bid to build the project, but refused to fund the project. It turns out that the price that came back was around €10 million and this was deemed to be too high.
The project is just 1km long and involves a more permanent finish to the current layout which is the interim project in place with much the same layout.
The full project would have included resurfacing the street including the current cycle track surface which is in a poor state. besides surfacing, the hard engineering was only expected to include buildout and islands at junctions. Although the project intersects with three major arterial bus and traffic routes.
When asked about the expected funding allocation on Thursday, Minister Ryan referred to the Fitzwilliam Cycle Route which the council said funding is “currently unavailable”.
Speaking to IrishCycle.com at the launch of the National Cycle Network, Minister Ryan said: “We have to be careful too — we need to get value for money”.
He said that some project costs have come back from tenders with “steep” price tags. He said: “I’ll give you an example, the Fitzwilliam Street project [cost] estimates were very high.”
Minister Ryan added: “It was very expensive compared to the benefits that other projects could bring. We will have to prioritise and if something is looking very, very expensive, you cannot sign off on everything.”
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At last Monday’s monthly Dublin City Council meeting, Cllr Claire Byrne (Greens) said: “Just on Fitzwilliam Street, I see funding is unavailable, I appreciate this as a significant scheme in a conservation area and it’ll have me much-needed junctions upgrade particularly at Holles Street, but €10 million for one kilometre does seem excessive and I’m just wondering what happened to previous funding that was allocated for this.”
She added: “And what’s the plan now? I feel like Holles Street [the National Maternity Hospital] will end up in Elm Park before that junction is upgraded, are you going to go back and try and get it done for cheaper?”
Council officials answered other councillors’ questions in a batch at the meeting but did not seem to directly answer Cllr Byrne.
Sample drawings of Fitzwilliam Cycle Route