Contracts for the construction of one of the State's most expensive motorway sections yet, the controversial M3 motorway in Co Meath, have been signed by Siac Ferrovial and the National Roads Authority. The cost of the road, including land, is €900 million.
Siac Ferrovial, an Irish-Spanish consortium trading as Eurolink, has already commenced preparatory works and has moved machinery on to a site compound at Dunshaughlin. Construction of the 60km of motorway and 50km of ancillary roads is now expected to get under way in earnest.
A spokesman for Minister for the Environment Dick Roche said there were no outstanding issues in relation to archaeology to delay the start of the project.
At €900 million, the road is more expensive than all schemes so far except the upgrade of the M50 where the addition of a third lane and upgrade of the junctions is expected to cost €1 billion. In comparison, Dublin Port Tunnel cost some €750 million - although the contractor is seeking additional payments - and the Shannon Tunnel in Limerick has a projected cost of about €570 million. The South Eastern Motorway, the most expensive section of the M50, cost about €500 million.
Opponents of the M3 have not ruled out another legal challenge and in the last month transport researcher Brian Guckian has lodged complaints against Ireland with the European Commission and the European Parliament over four Irish motorway projects, including the M3.
He told The Irish Times yesterday his complaint related to defects in the environmental impact assessments of the M3, the proposed M7/M8 motorway in the midlands, the Monkstown Ring Road in south Dublin and two schemes on the N6/M6 between Athlone and Galway.
© 2007 The Irish Times