Friday, 12 September 2008

Metro work to disrupt two major hospitals

SERIOUS IMPACTS on sensitive equipment at the Rotunda and Mater hospitals, and the possibility that the Mater may have to make alternative arrangements for operations, are among the effects expected from the construction of Metro North, according to an environmental impact statement (EIS) on the project.

Other effects from construction of the underground light railway will include noise and vibrations from blasting and tunnel boring machines, the loss of large areas of public parks and school playgrounds, effects on traffic and disruption to traders.

Some aspects of the five-year construction project would include night work.

Metro North is the proposed 18km rail link which would run from St Stephen's Green in Dublin City Centre to Lissenhall in Swords.

The rail line, about half of which is due to go underground, would serve the areas of Drumcondra, Ballymun and Finglas, as well as Croke Park, Dublin City University and Dublin airport.

The rail line is due to run underground from the city centre to Ballymun and overground from there to Lissenhall.

The likely effects of the construction work are outlined in an EIS to be published next week, prior to the submission by the Railway Procurement Agency of a planning application to An Bord Pleanála.

The statement says that while there would be noise, vibration, traffic, trading and land use disruptions, many of these would be short term.

However, some areas - particularly Ballymun - will be subject to more frequent disturbances, ranging from the loss of front gardens to traffic and trade disruptions. In all cases, mitigation measures are proposed but for the hospitals and some other community facilities the prospects for disruption are stark.

The EIS non-technical summary notes: "Co-ordination with sensitive neighbours such as the Mater and Rotunda hospitals will be an important mitigation measure to prevent interference with sensitive equipment."

Dealing specifically with the Mater, the EIS says: "The Mater hospital may need to make alternative arrangements for the use of some of its equipment for approximately 10 weeks as the tunnel boring machine passes."

The option chosen for a metro stop at Drumcondra will require the demolition of St Vincent's Centre for the Deaf and a number of private properties.

The EIS also notes that part of the gardens of the Rotunda Hospital will be required for a works compound, as will part of the Garden of Remembrance at Parnell square.

The amount of land required from St Stephen's Green for a works compound will be restricted to 20 per cent, although the EIS also notes that some features, such as entrance booths and signage, will be permanent alterations.

Other land required for up to five years during construction includes part of Our Lady of Victories school in Ballymun, two areas for compounds along Ballymun road and the garden of Our Lady of Victories church.

In Albert College Park, two compounds will be established on land amounting to 4.7 hectares (about 12 acres). A minimum amount of land is required for the Griffith Avenue stop, but an "intervention shaft" to be located on the playground of nearby St Patrick's boys national school will require the school to be provided with an alternative playground.

The EIS notes "both the Drumcondra stop and the Mater stop will result in permanent land take". It also acknowledges "potential for widespread noise impacts during construction".

The Irish Times

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