The destruction of St. Stephen's Green

The destruction of St. Stephen's Green

Postby Peter Fitz » Sat Apr 26, 2008 10:52 am

Finally a journalist exposes the level of destruction St. Stephen's Green will endure during construction of Metro North & The Dart Underground Tunnel.

The scale is massive, not only will the works necessitate the removal of many mature trees, particularly on its northern side but what remains will be blighted by a proliferation of ventilation ducts, emergency escape stairs and other accoutrements.

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No amount of money will return the green to what we have now - a perfectly maturing & indeed a perfect city park, its integrity will be destoryed. It has survived intact for near on 130 years & yet in 2008 this generation sees fit to thoroughly vandalise it.

It seems the final decision lies with John Gormley as this level of vandalism will require an amendment to the 1877 St. Stephen's Green Act.

John Gormley, you cannot let this happen.

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Frank McDonald wrote:However, design drawings seen by The Irish Times clearly show that at least a quarter of the park would be devastated by the scheme. It would, in effect, be turned into a vast construction site, requiring the removal of the landmark Fusiliers' Arch at its northwestern corner, dozens of mature trees and a large part of the lake.



Frank McDonald, The Tearing of the Green, The Irish Times wrote:Plans for the Metro North line entail excavating a large section of St Stephen's Green at huge cost. But some are questioning the wisdom of using the Green as a transport hub, and worry that the work will forever alter the character of the park. Frank McDonald Environment Editor reports

ON NOVEMBER 1ST, 2005, at the Government's fanfare launch of its €]www.rpa.ie[/url]), the detail of what is being planned in and around the Green is not immediately evident.

However, design drawings seen by The Irish Times clearly show that at least a quarter of the park would be devastated by the scheme. It would, in effect, be turned into a vast construction site, requiring the removal of the landmark Fusiliers' Arch at its northwestern corner, dozens of mature trees and a large part of the lake.

In order to create the underground concourse and platforms for the proposed "Grand Central" station, a huge hole more than 20 metres deep and 160 metres long would be excavated at this location, extending beyond the railings from a point opposite the Fitzwilliam Hotel to a point opposite the St Stephen's Green Club.

This "cut-and-cover" project would take at least three years to complete, requiring some traffic diversions in the area. Excavated material would be removed by trucks using an access point on the north side of the Green and running down Dawson Street. Operation of the Sandyford Luas line would be unaffected.

To facilitate the movement of Metro North trains at their terminus station, the twin tracks would be burrowed under the middle of the park towards its southeastern corner and there would also be a large turnback loop, which is apparently to be tunnelled using the same "drill and blast" technique common in coal mining.

The St Stephen's Green station on CIÉ's planned rail interconnector, or "Dart Underground", linking Heuston Station with Spencer Dock, would also have a negative impact at ground level. A 200-metre stretch along the northern side of the Green would be turned into a construction site, with the loss of more trees.

Its station would be constructed on a transverse axis, partly beneath the Metro North station, using more "drill and blast" excavation underground, requiring the removal of some 8,000 truckloads of material. However, it is unclear at this stage whether these two projects by rival agencies will proceed in tandem.

Even after the park is restored with replacement trees and the Fusiliers' Arch and lake are reinstated, the character of St Stephen's Green would be permanently altered by visible - and discordant - elements of the two stations above-ground, including ventilation ducts, emergency escape stairs and other accoutrements.

For example, the drawings prepared by the RPA and consultant engineers Jacobs International show a cluster of air vents on the island in the park's lake which is a refuge for ducks and waterhens.

No wonder the Office of Public Works (OPW) was "aghast" when it was first shown the plans, according to a source.

When the Sandyford Luas line and its current terminus on the west side of St Stephen's Green was under construction, the OPW was so protective of the park and its curtilage that it wouldn't even permit any encroachment on the footpath outside. Now, it is faced with the prospect of much of the Green becoming a building site.

"It beggars belief that four decades after the battle to save Hume Street they're now planning to demolish St Stephen's Green," said one engineer who examined the detailed drawings. "But it's clear that the Green was selected [ for construction of the station] because it's a wonderful works site, a big open space."

IN 2006, THE Green was shortlisted for the Academy of Urbanism's Great Place award. The academy's poet in residence, Ian McMillan, wrote that "every city needs a green like this/To pause for a moment in the city's throng/This green is a smile and this green is a kiss/ And Dublin is the city where St Stephen's Green belongs".

An OPW spokesman said it was liaising with both the RPA and CIÉ to mitigate the environmental impact of the metro and rail interconnector works. He also pointed out that, technically, the park is now vested in the Minister for the Environment and said an amendment to the 1877 St Stephen's Green Act would probably be needed.

John Costigan, managing director of the Gaiety Theatre, has also expressed concern that one of the twin-bore metro tunnels would come perilously close to its fly-tower, which was rebuilt in recent years on steel piles with a depth of 10 or 11 metres, and that the theatre could be affected by vibrations from the metro.

It is clear that the "Grand Central" plan was driven by the Sandyford Luas line terminating on the west side of St Stephen's Green. But since the Luas line is to be extended northwards, via Dawson Street and College Green - as originally planned, until the Government ditched it in 1998 - it would be duplicating Metro North.

THE COST OF the 17km metro line was estimated at €4.58 billion in 2004, though this was never publicly admitted by the RPA. With construction cost inflation since then, plus the addition of a new station at Parnell Square and agreement to put the line underground in Ballymun, the figure could now be as high as €6 billion. That would work out at €353 million per kilometre for a single line which, the RPA admits, would carry elongated Luas-type trams rather than heavy rail metro trains. This contrasts with €60 million per kilometre for the extension of the Tallaght Luas line in Docklands - the most expensive Luas project to date.

Even on the basis of that high figure, the RPA could build more than 100 kilometres of street-running Luas lines for the price of Metro North - and a lot more at a lower cost per kilometre. Such a change of plan would give Dublin a light rail network, serving many more areas than the limited Swords-St Stephen's Green corridor.

Given Metro North's price tag, which the RPA has been trying to reduce by cutting back on station design, it would make more sense to terminate it at O'Connell Bridge or, better still, underneath Tara Street station. If this was done, the rail interconnector's cost could also be cut because it wouldn't have to swing south to Stephen's Green.

The cost of Metro North could also be reduced by substituting a surface-running Luas line between Dublin Airport and Swords. Another obvious cost-cutting measure would involve boring a single tunnel wide enough to carry trains in both directions, rather than the separate tunnels for each track currently proposed.

The RPA is in the process of selecting a "preferred bidder" for the Metro North project from a shortlist of four consortiums and preparing an environmental impact statement, with a view to making a formal application for a railway order in August. By then, the design of the project will be set, sealing the fate of St Stephen's Green.

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Re: The destruction of St. Stephen's Green

Postby PTB » Sat Apr 26, 2008 11:28 am

Thats fucking scandalous. This is going to be a disaster.

Why twin bore? All the metros I've used have all been single bore. It's not like the luas style trains are going to be too big to fit in the one tunnel?
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Re: The destruction of St. Stephen's Green

Postby jdivision » Sat Apr 26, 2008 11:31 am

Peter FitzPatrick wrote:Finally a journalist exposes the level of destruction St. Stephen's Green will endure during construction of Metro North & The Dart Underground Tunnel.


Unfortunately it's been known about for a year

http://archives.tcm.ie/businesspost/2006/06/04/story14801.asp

A large part of St Stephen’s Green in Dublin will be closed to allow the building of an underground rail station.

Most of the park is likely to be excavated and construction will continue for two to three years, as part of the building of the new metro and rail network
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Re: The destruction of St. Stephen's Green

Postby cgcsb » Sat Apr 26, 2008 11:44 am

PTB wrote:Thats fucking scandalous. This is going to be a disaster.

Why twin bore? All the metros I've used have all been single bore. It's not like the luas style trains are going to be too big to fit in the one tunnel?



Single bore metro tunnels are typically in use on older systems. They do not conform to modern safety standards. If a train travelling in one direction experiences a problem eg fire or derailment, it would be disasterous for both that train and one travelling in the opposite direction. The double bore system reduces that risk
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Re: The destruction of St. Stephen's Green

Postby notjim » Sat Apr 26, 2008 1:21 pm

It is good that this has been publicized, but what an annoying article: he conflates two issues, a very important one, Stephen's Green must be protected in the design of the metro and a complete red herring regarding luas and whether the metro should be built at all. Maybe the metro isn't an ideal plan, but that discussion is over, the government has committed itself. That doesn't mean that the RPA should, nor need, get away with tearing up the park, but using the park as a way at getting at the whole metro plan is not the best approach!
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Re: The destruction of St. Stephen's Green

Postby gunter » Sat Apr 26, 2008 2:03 pm

I understand the outrage, but every city with a metro has had to endure a huge whole in the ground for several years, there no other way. Where else would you put it? What would missarchi say if it got moved off Stephen's Green?

It's a bit of an eye-opener that you could build 100km of luas line for the cost of the metro, if that is true! On the other hand, if they cancelled the metro, would we ever see even one tenth of that amount of new luas line in it's place?
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Re: The destruction of St. Stephen's Green

Postby notjim » Sat Apr 26, 2008 2:32 pm

But gunter, the PF's objection isn't to the disruption, or to the hole in the ground, but specifically to the permanent damage to the green.
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Re: The destruction of St. Stephen's Green

Postby missarchi » Sat Apr 26, 2008 4:41 pm

I have been thinking about this station for over 7 months every day of the week.

This is a very old superseded sketch of the concept but it gives you a general idea.

The board is likely to receive an alternative proposal to at least consider the merits of.
3d views a model and a written statement in response to any RPA CIE plan will be provided.
The idea involves basically no disturbance to the green on the scale we are seeing.
The space in front of the arch will become a pedestrian only landscaped area with clear sight lines that formally respond to the existing context there will be no signs no poles no advertising and it will become an even more special place with character. All the clutter will go... and the bands will have an even better space.
Sight lines towards Merrion Row and Harcourt st will be enhanced with a axis aligned approach.

The luas line will be redirected around the other side of the green this can proceeded at any time down Dawson st if you wanted. Construction will then commence on metro north. After landscaping is finished the existing luas station will be re-instated generally and enhanced. Then construction of the inter connector station will commence yes there will be traffic disruption for a few years but this is a very very small price to pay.
Business will be disturbed in some way but they will get compensation ( they where going to get disturbed regardless)

The price is very small to pay in the future they will get:

- wider footpaths
- improved landscaping
- outdoor seating possible in some places
- Increased pedestrian traffic
- 1200 bicycle spaces will be provided ( min. 350 secure 24 hour security located within 40 meters of entrance )
- Taxi rank / Horse and cart area provided
- An even better tourist attraction
- The bands can kept playing
- The Christmas tree still has a spot
- Metro entrances that make every effort to not impose themselves and destroy sight lines using cast iron and unique designs that in some way match the existing fence around the green there is also an idea to make these secure at night.

There is much more but I'll save that for later...
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Re: The destruction of St. Stephen's Green

Postby CC105 » Sat Apr 26, 2008 5:54 pm

Dont agree with much of this article, where is the balance. The metro lines will be of equal if not more importance to the city than the park once actually built. The park is fantastic and should be easy enough to fix up after the line are built. If there is a lack in confidence of this happening then this is a different issue. There will indeed be some pain to endure while these lines are being built but shortermism should not be considered. These lines will serve the city for years longer than they will take to build. Hardly a surprise that significant work will be involved in building 2 metro lines.

Ducks worried about air vents!!!
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Re: The destruction of St. Stephen's Green

Postby Andrew Duffy » Sat Apr 26, 2008 6:25 pm

Would anyone else like to see Saint Stephen's Green restored to the way it was when it was laid out - no large trees, no railings, just a vast expanse of Georgian extravagance? I would:

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... and Merrion Square too. Phoenix Park is a good place for trees, water features and the dumping of unwanted statues.
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Re: The destruction of St. Stephen's Green

Postby notjim » Sat Apr 26, 2008 6:36 pm

CC105 wrote:Dont agree with much of this article, where is the balance. The metro lines will be of equal if not more importance to the city than the park once actually built. The park is fantastic and should be easy enough to fix up after the line are built. If there is a lack in confidence of this happening then this is a different issue. There will indeed be some pain to endure while these lines are being built but shortermism should not be considered. These lines will serve the city for years longer than they will take to build. Hardly a surprise that significant work will be involved in building 2 metro lines.

Ducks worried about air vents!!!



You see, that's the problem with the article; it tries to set up a choice between the Green and the metro and if that's the choice, the answer will be metro. However, that shouldn't be the point, the point should be: what can be done to reduce the permanent impact of the metro works on Stephen's Green.
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Re: The destruction of St. Stephen's Green

Postby PVC King » Sat Apr 26, 2008 6:58 pm

I really can't believe they are running with this design; it is clear that should they build a perfect loop that the line will never be extended beyond this point.

I know there is a tight fiscal backdrop at present but this really is shortsightedness of the highest order and I have no doubt that this will unite every conservationist that hasn't talked for years.

Is this a deliberate effort on the part of the RPA to delay the project two years whilst the revised application goes through ABP and blame the conservation lobby so that funds can continue to be diverted into the motorway programme?
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Re: The destruction of St. Stephen's Green

Postby missarchi » Sat Apr 26, 2008 7:08 pm

notjim wrote:You see, that's the problem with the article; it tries to set up a choice between the Green and the metro and if that's the choice, the answer will be metro. However, that shouldn't be the point, the point should be: what can be done to reduce the permanent impact of the metro works on Stephen's Green.


dig up roads instead of the park!!!!
The rpa are worried more about disrupting traffic then digging up a park,,,

the entrance seemed to have moved since the comments in jan,,,
I might be open to considering losing trees on the Dawson st axis but....
if the RPA want to win support they need to put a very re assuring proposal together... and listen
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Re: The destruction of St. Stephen's Green

Postby missarchi » Sat Apr 26, 2008 7:14 pm

Andrew Duffy wrote:Would anyone else like to see Saint Stephen's Green restored to the way it was when it was laid out - no large trees, no railings, just a vast expanse of Georgian extravagance? I would:

Image

... and Merrion Square too. Phoenix Park is a good place for trees, water features and the dumping of unwanted statues.


its not like that any more stand in the middle look around and tell me what you think!!!
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Re: The destruction of St. Stephen's Green

Postby GrahamH » Sat Apr 26, 2008 7:19 pm

The potential planning delays could very well be a nightmare alright.

At present, the impact on the Green, post-reinstatement (or lack thereof) hasn't actually been articulated. To what extent 'super-mature' trees can be put back we don't know - that alone could make an enormous difference. It's difficult to separate the short term issues from the long-term impact on the park, which as has been said is what matters. Still, even the Victorian planting and landscaping heritage being interfered with is distinctly unpalatable.

I'd hate to see the Green opened up again - it's not as if there's an uniformity anymore (or ever was for that matter). The enormous buffer blanket of greenery is its fundamental charm. The unashamed prissyness of its floral displays and sense of enclosure merely adds to this.
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Re: The destruction of St. Stephen's Green

Postby CC105 » Sat Apr 26, 2008 7:30 pm

[quote="PVC King"]I really can't believe they are running with this design; it is clear that should they build a perfect loop that the line will never be extended beyond this point.

Agreed + is the line pointing slightly in the wrong direction if they want to extend the metro south along the luas line or south west towards Ranelagh etc
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Re: The destruction of St. Stephen's Green

Postby Andrew Duffy » Sat Apr 26, 2008 7:46 pm

missarchi wrote:its not like that any more stand in the middle look around and tell me what you think!!!


The middle will be completely unaffected by these works, which will impact the Northwest corner and North side.
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Re: The destruction of St. Stephen's Green

Postby missarchi » Sat Apr 26, 2008 7:55 pm

Andrew Duffy wrote:The middle will be completely unaffected by these works, which will impact the Northwest corner and North side.


look for plant space and you will see what i'm talking about.... its existing
much like the connection with st stephens green and fitzwilliam hotel from the middle of grafton st...

green... they could at least use some tiles....

if you open up st stephen's green it wont look as good as it once was...

i'm just offering to dig up roads instead of a park... that's not to say it cannot be done well but from what I've seen these issues should have been addressed a while ago much like o'connell st and now they have finally moved 3 escalators after a mock up... there will be more mock ups...
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Re: The destruction of St. Stephen's Green

Postby Peter Fitz » Sun Apr 27, 2008 1:52 pm

CC105 wrote:The park is fantastic and should be easy enough to fix up after the line are built. If there is a lack in confidence of this happening then this is a different issue.


This is the issue & the point of this thread. Even if you don't care about the damage to the Green itself, this will raise the ire of every conservation lobby & rightly so, with inevitable delay. I'd suggest that even the pro M3 lobby, given all thats happened, are quitely wondering if there was not in fact a better way.

notjim wrote:But gunter, PF's objection isn't to the disruption, or to the hole in the ground, but specifically to the permanent damage to the green.


Cheers notjim, permanent damage is the problem. I'd have no issue with the entireity of St. Stephen's Green west & north being excavated, they can be returned exactly as is. Perhaps they figure that its easier to plunder the green itself & put up with a grumbling public than excavate valuable roadway space & god forbid, upset business.

I'm just waiting for the RPA to appease us with the notion that only the finest mature specimens will be planted as recompense. Bullshit. Its not possible. Planting anything older than 30 years, positively juvenile in the context of the green, is extremely difficult. The rate of attrition is huge and add to the fact that mature specimens are stagnant for years while they get to grips with their forced surroundings.

So we'll have some shiny new trees that scream of botched interference, completely out of context and coupled with a proliferation of visible metro associated structures, you may as well start again.

We don't do trees in Dublin City, what we have in the main are dotted around in an incoherent, haphazard mess as part of sticking plaster initiatives to clean up declining urban pockets. No grand vision, no landscape design.

One place where they got it right is St. Stephen's Green.
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Re: The destruction of St. Stephen's Green

Postby hutton » Sun Apr 27, 2008 4:55 pm

jdivision wrote:Unfortunately it's been known about for a year

http://archives.tcm.ie/businesspost/2006/06/04/story14801.asp

A large part of St Stephen’s Green in Dublin will be closed to allow the building of an underground rail station.

Most of the park is likely to be excavated and construction will continue for two to three years, as part of the building of the new metro and rail network


Yep Breaking News - Frank McDonald does not like the Metro :eek: :eek: :eek: ... and in other news, the Irish Times has discovered what most of us have known about for the past year....

Tss, tss jdivision, I dont like the idea at all of "most of the park is likely to be excavated" - it was my understanding from the RPA that their actions were limited to the northern fringe and nw corner, with traitors gate being reinstated afterwards. Any further light on the "most of" suggestion?

And what is the point of the turnaround loop? This is new to me, and where is the cost/benefit? All from an agency that is trying to save money by skimping on paintwork and tiles :rolleyes:
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Re: The destruction of St. Stephen's Green

Postby missarchi » Sun Apr 27, 2008 7:48 pm

hutton wrote:And what is the point of the turnaround loop? This is new to me, and where is the cost/benefit?


I'm guessing it allows them to kept tunneling???? or have the option not to kept going past the green to turn the train around instead of going to bray???
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Re: The destruction of St. Stephen's Green

Postby missarchi » Sun Apr 27, 2008 9:12 pm

I do feel sorry for the RPA i'm trying to apply for 28,000,000 million euro to help with the finishes/design as part of the Tourism Capital Investment Programme 2007-2013. But there website has a error limit in part 12 of total capital cost of 1 billion which the RPA are well over so I cannot submit the application...

One of the attachments is labeled mind the elevation
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Re: The destruction of St. Stephen's Green

Postby MrX » Sun Apr 27, 2008 10:45 pm

Is there no way that they could use one of the ugly office buildings on the Green e.g. the eircom HQ which is currently up for sale as the station head i.e. the parts where the public will actually access.

Then use a tunnel boring machine and minimally invasive access to put the rail tunnels under the Green itself.

On the plus side you'd also have a metro station that would have several floors of commercial space above it that could actually make money!

I don't see why they would need to opt for an 'open cast mining' approach to the park itself! Fair enough if they have to dig up the grass or the paths, but the trees should not be touched!
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Re: The destruction of St. Stephen's Green

Postby gunter » Mon Apr 28, 2008 10:59 am

notjim wrote:But gunter, the PF's objection isn't to the disruption, or to the hole in the ground, but specifically to the permanent damage to the green.


Nobody wants to see big trees cut down, or the ducks being discommoded, but we're not going to get a metro without a big hole in the ground somewhere and the permanent damage to the Green is a bi-product of this. The way I understood the Frank McDonnald article, he was hinting that 'Grand Central Station' should be put in some other location, because of the impact on the Green.

If that is the argument, what are the alternative locations?

The only other, centrally located, site of the acreage apparently required, that comes to mind is Upper O'Connell Street. Either way, this one is going to start with a very big hole in the ground, sticking the terminus of the metro in it might not add much to the disruption that's going to happen anyway, and it is right beside that daft loop on the BX line (unless I've lost track of that one). Maybe the metro trains could surface from their tunnels, run up the ski slope, tilt over and run back down the other side. You might get tourists to pay to see that!

I have to laugh at the OPW being 'aghast' at the extent of the destruction to Stephen's Green. It's a pity they're not a bit more 'aghast' at some of their own little schemes.

On PF's core point, the inevitable carnage of mature trees etc. from this quarter of the Green, again this is really sad, but it's not that long ago that we lost all the Elms on the perimeter of the Green. To the same disease episode we lost the magnificent trees on both sides of Herbert Park and the avenue at the RHK. The point is that planting will recover, it might take a long time to be as good again, but it doesn't take that long to be good enough.
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Re: The destruction of St. Stephen's Green

Postby notjim » Mon Apr 28, 2008 11:09 am

gunter: I more or less agree with you, the Green is the only possible terminus and this will cause disruption, however, the point to emphasis is that minimizing the medium term and permanent damage to the Green needs to be an important priority: cut down as few mature trees as possible and locate as little above ground infrastructure as possible in the park itself, keep the normal exits outside the current perimeter, make sure the ventilation shafts can be hidden in copse (copses?) of trees, think of something clever for the emergency stairs.

My arguement with the FMcD article is that he isn't emphasizing these, achievable, goals but instead is using the park in a vain exercise in campaigning against the metro itself.
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