PROPOSALS for a €1bn tunnel under Sandymount strand and Booterstown bird sanctuary in Dublin Bay are being considered.
But they are certain to run into strong opposition from the Greens and environmentalists.
Plans for an eastern bypass linking Dublin Port to the southern end of the M50 have been discussed for years and are supported by business groups. Now the National Roads Authority is preparing a feasibility study to be presented to Transport Minister Noel Dempsey later this year.
Sources familiar with the study say some of the proposed routes present "environmental difficulties".
One option being studied consists of a tunnel under Sandymount strand and a four-hectare water marsh at Booterstown, which is home to herons and oystercatchers. The route would pass through the Dublin South East constituency of Environment Minister John Gormley.
"It makes no sense from a financial or policy point of view to go ahead with a project like this," Mr Gormley said at the weekend.
"If you look at any of the options proposed in relation to this project, such as putting it on stilts or building a tunnel, they have all been very costly and problematic.
"Any such road would be crossing Dublin Bay and this is an extremely sensitive area. If we are looking at new projects for Dublin, the emphasis should be on providing public transport."
Employers group IBEC has said the business community would welcome the "missing link" between the Port Tunnel and the M50. It wants construction to start by 2010 and finish by 2015.
© Irish Independent