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That article from the Indo:

Rising costs place plans for new bridge in troubled waters
The proposed new Macken Street Bridge…threatened by rising costs. Pic: Bobby Byrne

THE future of a proposed landmark bridge described as crucial for the development of Dublin’s docklands is being threatened by rising costs.

Originally projected to cost approximately €20m, Dublin City Council now estimates that the long-awaited Macken Street Bridge will cost €38m, the Irish Independent has learned.

Construction firms were last week invited to submit expressions of interest in building the bridge, but the council will reconsider whether the project will proceed if there is a big difference between its estimate and the market price.

The bridge, which has been promised since 1999, has been described as a strategic necessity for Dublin as well as a cultural icon on a par with the Halfpenny Bridge.

It would cross the River Liffey at Macken Street, halfway between the Matt Talbot Bridge and the East Link Bridge.

The blueprint was produced by the world’s leading bridge designer, Spanish architect Sanitiago Calatrava, who devised an ultra-modern bridge capable of pivoting open to allow ships to pass.

His design envisages a structure with a span of 120 metres suspended from a 48-metre pylon. Its curbed profile is intended to evoke a harp lying on its side.

However, the sheer complexity of the design is understood to be one of the factors behind the high construction cost.

Another major reason is the rising cost of steel on the world market as well as the fact that the bridge will be capable of accommodating a Luas line.

No Luas lines are planned for the area at present but Dublin City Council decided to factor in the possibility of a line in the future. It would also carry four traffic lanes, two bus corridors, two cycle ways and pedestrian paths.

Depending on the price, the city council expects construction to begin in the new year after selecting the successful contractor.

Dublin City Council deputy city engineer Michael Phillips said that the bridge was “extremely important” for the docklands.

Crucially, Dublin Docklands Development Authority (DDDA) plans for the refurbishment of the area hinge on the construction of the Macken Street Bridge, which is supposed to link the Grand Canal Dock to the redeveloped sites on the Liffey’s northside.

The proposed bridge was previously the target of intense opposition from local people in the docklands area, who feared that it will generate more traffic and pollution.

City planners now fear that the project could become bogged down in public hearings and the need for a new Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) if the current plans have to be watered down because of budget concerns.

The original EIS concluded that the bridge would give rise to “substantial increases” in traffic volumes for some streets in the docklands although it would reduce the flow of traffic on O’Connell Street.

Ben Quinn

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