Re: Spike delay

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Launch date for unveiling of the Spike in Dublin still up in the air
By Kitty Holland

Nobody seems to know when the spire for Dublin’s O’Connell Street will be finally unveiled.

Already over a year behind schedule, we were told in April that it would be ready by September. Still, however, the capital is “spikeless”, and no one is quite sure when the “Monument of Light”, as it is officially known, will see some light.

According to the project engineer on the spire, Mr Michael O’Neill: “It is hard to predict when it will be finished.”

A spokeswoman for Dublin Bus said yesterday evening that the company had been advised by Dublin City Council that construction would begin this weekend, with an official unveiling planned for December 8th. However, a problem has arisen with embellishing the stainless steel exterior of the spire with the intended design.

The spire is currently in six sections at Radley Engineering in Dungarvan, Co Waterford. Mr O’Neill explained that the design, said to be “reflective of what’s happening to the rocks beneath O’Connell Street”, had to be shot-peened (bombarded with metal shot) on to the spire’s surface.

At the moment the engineers are endeavouring to shot-peen the design on to the first 10-metre-high section.

The engineers’ chosen method was to put a layer of masking material over the surface of the spire to protect the metal, explained Mr O’Neill. The metal is then heated to the optimum temperature for the process. However, when the engineers shoot the tiny balls of metal at the surface, to create the dulled-effect design, the masking material is slipping.

“We are going to spend the rest of the week cracking the problem,” said Mr O’Neill. The process is being supervised by architect Mr Robin Cross of Ian Ritchie architects in London.

Asked what would happen if the problem was not resolved by the end of the week, Mr O’Neill said it was important that the engineers took as long they needed.

“They are going to stay with it until they get it right,” he said. “The design element of the project was always going to be the hardest. The cutting, the welding, the bolting together is all very straightforward.

“It has to be perfect, as the sections have be transported to the site ready. There is no way they can go back to Waterford for small changes once they have been brought to Dublin.”

Gardaí in Dungarvan said they had been given no notice of when the first two sections would leave the Radley Engineering works. According to Mr O’Neill, the sections would be escorted through each county by that county’s gardaí on a tarpaulin-covered lorry. They would be brought to the outskirts of Dublin and held there until given clearance by the Dublin gardaí for the final journey to O’Connell Street, said Mr O’Neill.

“It will probably be brought in sometime between midnight and 1.30 a.m. and tucked in behind the hoarding already up there in O’Connell Street.”

Mr O’Neill estimates that the entire spire will be erected over a period of 12 to 14 days once the final assembly begins.

He said there would be 10 to 15-minute traffic stoppages on O’Connell Street each morning and evening as the enormous crane, already in place, rises from and returns to its “sleeping” position in the morning. This process involved the crane swinging out over the street and could, said Mr O’Neill, be such a distraction to motorists as to be dangerous.

When finally in place, the Monument of Light will be 120 metres high – about the same height as RTÉ’s main transmission mast in Donnybrook.

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