Tuesday 4 March 2008

Dublin's eastern bypass scheme at a dead end

A PLAN to build Dublin's eastern bypass has effectively been shelved by the Department of Transport.

No funds are available for advanced planning of the EUR1 billion project, which was deemed to be feasible in a recent report presented to the transport minister by the National Roads Authority (NRA). Noel Dempsey, the transport minister, has read the NRA's proposal, but is unlikely to give permission for it to move to the next stage, officials have indicated.

The bypass would involve tunnelling under Sandymount strand and is strongly opposed by the Green party, Fianna Fail's government partners.

"The NRA makes a good case for the road," said a departmental source. "But the money is not there to advance it. If the NRA can find the funds to do so within its budget, fine, but at the moment the priority is to complete the projects outlined in Transport 21 - and the bypass is not in that. There is no commitment for the eastern bypass in the programme for government either."

Although the government did not include the bypass in Transport 21, a EUR34 billion infrastructure plan, it promised to consider it and another project - the outer orbital route connecting the M7 with Drogheda - if they were deemed viable.

The outer orbital route, which runs through Meath, Dempsey's home county, has been approved in principle and is understood to be more of a priority.

Dempsey is also under pressure from his Green party colleagues to spend more on public transport to tackle congestion. John Gormley, the Green party leader, has said the bypass makes "no sense from a financial or policy point of view".

However, the NRA's report outlines how increased traffic levels in the capital will eventually make the road a necessity.

Richard Oakley
Sunday Times

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