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  • in reply to: Dublin Airport Metro to have unconnected terminus? #749656

    Another Frank MacDonald rant against the metro. Honestly just build the frickin thing already: does Dublin aspire to be a world-class city or not?

    Costly Metro project should be derailed

    The ‘astronomical’ cost of Dublin’s Metro North, as the Taoiseach himself once complained, should force a rethink, argues Frank McDonald , Environment Editor.

    This is what Bertie Ahern told the Dáil on June 30th, 2004: “To put a metro into the city on the scale proposed . . . would take up an enormous section of the capital programme for the entire State for an inordinate number of years.”

    As he said then, “the difficulty is the cost . . . has been astronomical and . . . is way out of line with what is considered reasonable for the taxpayer to bear . . . My feeling is it will be extremely difficult to undertake the entire project.”

    The Taoiseach was referring to estimates by the Railway Procurement Agency (RPA) that the likely price-tag for the first phase, linking Dublin airport with the city centre, would be €4.88 billion – a figure that caused consternation in Leinster House.

    Three years later, the RPA is motoring ahead with a scheme that will cost even more – at least €5 billion, as revealed by The Irish Times last August. And the cost of repaying this capital investment would equate to €22 for every trip taken on the line from Swords to St Stephen’s Green.

    That’s the figure cited by the Oireachtas Library and Research Service in a report on the metro project commissioned by Senator Paschal Donohoe (FG). It assumed that fares would cover the annual operating costs, leaving taxpayers to service a huge capital debt for 30 years.

    So what has changed? How is a project branded by the Taoiseach as astronomically expensive in 2004 now proceeding in these more financially-straitened times? The short answer is that we don’t know, because of the blanket of secrecy surrounding Metro North’s funding.

    All monetary figures in documents released to The Irish Times last July – nearly two years after they were first sought – were systematically blacked out. It was only by examining one letter closely that it was possible to discern a 2004 estimate of €4.58 billion.

    Add the cost of construction inflation since then, as well as an extra station on the east side of Parnell Square plus the cost of putting the line underground in Ballymun, rather than running it along the main street, and it is clear that the estimate would now exceed €5 billion.

    Even after allowing for such “value engineering” cost savings as underground stations with bare concrete walls, no escalators between street and concourse levels, and a minimal number of ticket machines – this exceeds the figure which Mr Ahern found “astronomical” in 2004.

    It seems hard to credit that his change of tune could be related to the RPA’s 2005 decision to reroute the largely underground metro via Drumcondra, in the heart of his constituency; this made sense anyway because it would provide a connection with the Maynooth commuter line.

    The Cabinet originally gave its approval for a much more extensive metro in January 2002. The first phase was to include a line from Dublin airport through the city centre to Bray (supplanting the Sandyford Luas then under construction), as well as a spur to serve Blanchardstown. Rather optimistically, 2007 was set as the completion date for this phase of the metro. On foot of Cabinet approval, the RPA prepared an outline business case in 2002 for what has become known as Metro North and a fuller business case for the 17km (10 miles) line in 2003. A spokesman said a more recent cost-benefit analysis of the scheme was submitted this year.

    None of these documents has been published, although one can imagine that the latest one has been scrutinised in detail by the Department of Finance. In the meantime, the RPA has shortlisted a number of “qualified candidates” to build and operate the metro. “It is intended that the Railway Order application process will commence in early 2008. The pre-application consultation process with an An Bord Pleanála has commenced and the public consultation process is ongoing,” the RPA said in a statement on September 13th.

    The RPA was much more forthcoming about figures in the past. It gave a full breakdown to the Oireachtas Committee on Transport in 2003 – €1.72 billion for construction, €903 million for risk provision, finance and insurance, €811 million for cost escalation and €458 million for VAT.

    In addition – and this is the really interesting bit – the RPA’s then chairman, Padraic White, explained that the public-private partnership (PPP) arrangement would cost the State €676 million, plus a further €313 million in fees for the consultants who would put it together.

    So it’s no wonder that major international companies such as Acciona, Alstom, Barclays Private Equity, Bombardier, Bouygues, HSBC Infrastructure Fund Management, Keolis, Macquarie Bank, Mitsui, Siemens and Veolia are all delighted to be put on the RPA’s shortlist.

    Under Department of Finance rules, all public capital projects costing €30 million must be subjected to a cost-benefit analysis, which is also supposed to examine alternatives. In the case of Metro North, these would presumably include a Luas line or rail spur to Dublin airport.

    Even with “value engineering”, such as the no-frills stations now proposed, the acknowledged cost-benefit ratio is weak at just 1:1.31 – nearly three times lower than the RPA’s equivalent calculation for a city centre link between the Tallaght and Sandyford Luas lines.

    The business case for Metro North is also based on extraordinarily optimistic assumptions such as the projection that it would carry 34 million passengers per year – eight million more than the two Luas lines carried in 2006 – with trains running every four minutes.

    As the report commissioned by Paschal Donohoe pointed out, the RPA’s assumption that 44 per cent of car users would transfer to metro in the catchment area it served also “seems particularly implausible” in the light of British figures showing much lower levels of “modal shift”.

    The metro project would only make economic sense if it was extended southwards from St Stephen’s Green to Sandyford, Cherrywood and Bray. But this would involve digging another tunnel from the Green to Ranelagh, and nobody can (or will) say how much this would cost.

    “How can anyone estimate the cost of a metro if a detailed design or even a geo-technical study is not completed?” one experienced transport engineer asked.

    And if the cost of the project increases, the slim positive ratio would fall and could even become negative.

    What’s certain is that Metro North would be by far the most expensive public project in the history of the State, costing at least six times as much as Luas or the Dublin Port Tunnel. Indeed, a much more extensive Luas network could be built for considerably less money.

    The Green Party remains committed to metro, whatever the cost. And now that it’s in Government, its Ministers – John Gormley and Eamon Ryan – will presumably fight to get their way. But it will be up to Brian Cowen and his department to determine whether it goes ahead.

    It would require a great deal of political courage to abandon such a “big-ticket” project. However, given the emerging budgetary position and the demise of the Celtic Tiger, it would be the prudent thing to do – and save the money for investment in projects that make sense.

    London link: approval for new service

    This week the British government finally gave its approval for a £16 billion (€23 billion) underground rail link across London from Paddington to Stratford, with intermediate stations at Bond Street, Tottenham Court Road, Farringdon, Liverpool Street and Whitechapel.

    Crossrail, Europe’s biggest civil engineering project, will provide a Parisian-style rapid rail service carrying 200 million passengers a year. It will link all the tube lines running through central London, thereby making it much easier for public transport users to get around.

    Dublin also has a “Crossrail” project – the proposed underground rail interconnector between Heuston Station and Spencer Dock. But it is way down the list of priorities in the Government’s Transport 21 programme and may not be built at all if the metro project eats up the money.The Iarnród Éireann project would perform the same role as London’s “Crossrail” by linking existing and planned commuter rail services as well as the Tallaght Luas line (at Heuston), the Sandyford Luas line (at St Stephen’s Green) and Dart (at Pearse Station).

    As a result, it would serve many more public transport users than Metro North, or the proposed Metro West, a souped-up Luas line running from Tallaght to Ballymun via Clondalkin and Blanchardstown – an orbital route on which there isn’t even a bus service at present.

    According to Iarnród Éireann, the interconnector combined with electrifying commuter rail services to Kildare, Maynooth and Drogheda would result in a four-fold increase in peak rail patronage by 2016, giving superior access to Dublin from nearly all population centres.

    The capital cost of this programme was estimated in 2002 at €3.4 billion, of which the interconnector – let’s call it “Crossrail” – would account for €1.3 billion. Five years on, it would cost significantly more – but nothing like as much as Metro North.
    © 2007 The Irish Times

    in reply to: Vertigo? U2 tower to be taller #750422

    @htd2008 wrote:

    We’d like to get your opinion on something. We were entrants in the U2 Landmark Tower Competition
    a few years back when all the hullabaloo about the winning design, the winner’s relationship
    with the Client, etc. was at hand.

    I just read the other day that DDDA may tip Foster
    to ultimately do the new tower for U2/DDDA. This would not have been a shocker in any
    other circumstance, until I saw the image of the proposed scheme that looks (we believe)
    similar to ours. including the gesture at the entry with an ocular view to the rest of the harbor. Coincidence?

    Your thoughts…?

    Vaguely similar but hardly a total rip-off, foster’s looks better overall. Please don’t sue, this project has little enough chance of ever proceeding as it is 🙂

    in reply to: Vertigo? U2 tower to be taller #750403

    @Morlan wrote:

    Buses? 😮

    It’s four stories high (see red lines), so plenty of headroom for double deckers. Don’t tell Bus Átha Cliath that.

    No, I reckon it will be a set down only arrangement for the hotel.

    Well from what I understand, the bridge across the Dodder will be a public transport corridor, so I assume buses travelling across the dodder, through the U2 tower, and on down the quays….

    in reply to: Vertigo? U2 tower to be taller #750388

    @Pepsi wrote:

    there will be something regarding the tower on this evening’s six one news. tune in now to find out. it should be on shortly.

    Ug they had this nimby from the Ringsend environment group or something on the news saying a tower on the site wasn’t suitable as it’s not a mariatime building or some such nonsense. Honestly, freedom of speech is great and all, but does it really have to apply to stupid people :rolleyes:

    in reply to: Vertigo? U2 tower to be taller #750385

    @Paul Clerkin wrote:

    Entrance to building

    Looks cool, is that the road going through it? Kinda looks like it from the main picture. Big enough to take buses?

    in reply to: Vertigo? U2 tower to be taller #750369

    @jdivision wrote:

    Because they’re not allowed to. DDDA will only allow two towers, that and the Watchtower. Why? Haven’t a clue.

    Time to amend the plan again 🙂

    Come on DDDA, you know you want to.

    in reply to: Vertigo? U2 tower to be taller #750365

    Isn’t it nice that all these developers and architects are fighting each other to build a signature tower in Dublin – so why do they all want to build them in one place? eg. let Treasury build their zaha hadid tower in Spencer dock.

    in reply to: Vertigo? U2 tower to be taller #750354
    in reply to: Vertigo? U2 tower to be taller #750351

    Won’t they have to reapply for planning permission?

    in reply to: Vertigo? U2 tower to be taller #750347

    @Paul Clerkin wrote:

    winner shall be in the mornings Irish Times….
    expect this one to run and run

    OOOH I’m going to have to stay up till it’s on the website now 😀

    in reply to: O’ Connell Street, Dublin #730618

    omg, can DCC get nothing right

    in reply to: Vertigo? U2 tower to be taller #750339

    @Paul Clerkin wrote:

    This thread has been edited due to the poster known as Jimllfixit removing all his posts which destroys the continuity of the thread.
    Hence I have had to remove replies directed at his misguided allegations.

    The plot thickens

    in reply to: ILAC centre #732038

    You can catch a regular glimpse of this once unruined terrace in the credits of fair city, before Dublin City Council allowed Dunnes Stores run a bulldozer through it

    For shame DCC 🙁

    in reply to: Vertigo? U2 tower to be taller #750324

    From yesterday’s Sunday business post

    U2 still haven’t got what they’re looking for
    23 September 2007 By Neil Callanan
    Seven years after it was first mooted, the proposed U2 tower for Dublin’s docklands remains strangled in red tape, design-related disagreements and planning squabbles.

    The U2 tower was intended to define the docklands area of Dublin: an emblem of new Ireland, an elegantly twisting structure close to the emerging centre of commerce in Dublin. Instead, it is in danger of becoming a symbol of planning logjams and indecision.

    In July last year, the Dublin Docklands Development Authority (DDDA) sought expressions of interest to develop the tower and an adjoining campshire site. The closing date for submissions was October 2006, and a decision on the winning bid was expected by the end of the year.

    But, nearly a year after the initial deadline for expressions of interest, an announcement on the winning bidder has yet to be made. Shortlisted bidders had been expecting an announcement by September 11,but that deadline passed and the winning bidder’s identity remains a secret.

    A spokeswoman for the DDDA said that, ‘‘due to scheduling issues, it is now likely to be early October, at the next meeting of the board of the Authority’’ before a decision is made. However, that could spark off yet another set of problems for the project.

    One shortlisted bidder for the project has told The Sunday Business Post that he hopes his bid will not be selected because of knock-on effects from the recent downturn in the housing market. He said that property developers had bid for the site when the market was still strong, but that the fall in residential prices would make it more difficult for the project to be viable.

    The recent tightening in the credit markets – the so-called ‘‘credit crunch’’ – is already affecting the funding of projects such as the Shard of Glass tower in London, and could make securing the finance to develop the site more difficult.

    The shortlist of five bidders for the tower was announced by the DDDA in February. It comprised Ballymore Properties; Royal BAM Group; a joint venture between Treasury Holdings and Sisk; Sean Dunne’s Mountbrook Homes; and the River II Partnership, made up of the Kelly, McCormack, Elliott and Flynn families, who are involved in property development.

    When the shortlist was announced, the five bidders were also told to submit design proposals for an adjacent site on Britain Quay, and to provide an integrated plan for that site and the tower. The developers were required to bid for the pre-agreed design for theU2 Tower, and also to bid for their own architects’ designs for the sites.

    However, it subsequently emerged that the members of U2 were in fact bidding for the tower site themselves, in a joint venture with Ballymore. The DDDA has not explained why U2’s involvement was not initially disclosed, or whether it was even aware of it when the bids were submitted.

    The DDDA, through its solicitors, did write to the other companies on the shortlist to say that the rock superstars would ‘‘not have any role or involvement, directly or indirectly’’ in examining bids for the project.

    Since the DDDA’s decision to allow bidders to use their own architects’ designs, there has been sustained speculation that the original design of the tower will be scrapped. A spokeswoman for the DDDA said she could not comment on the matter.

    Felim Dunne, a principal in architecture firm BCDH, which designed the tower, did not return a call seeking comment on whether his firm had been told that its design was no longer to be used.

    Two of the shortlisted bidders have told this newspaper that if theU2 tower site design is used, the site of 2.5 acres will sell for at least €75 million, and possibly as much as €100million,when the cost of providing the upper floors of the tower for U2 is included in the cost.

    However, they stated that bids for the variant tower designs were significantly below those figures. Ballymore/U2 and Treasury Holdings/Sisk are understood to have submitted variant tower designs, and the Ballymore/U2 bid is the favourite to win.

    The competition to design a tower for the site was run in 2003, but the identity of the original winning design could not be ascertained. It subsequently emerged that it should have been disqualified in the first place, so BCDH’s proposal was declared the winner.

    The BCDH proposal is for a tower with a 45-degree twist, a feature that has become increasingly common in towers worldwide. International architecture firm Skidmore Owings & Merrill (SOM) designed the 80-storey Infinity Tower in Dubai, which has a 90-degree twist.

    Architect Santiago Calatrava, who designed the Samuel Beckett bridge for the docklands in Dublin, has designed numerous twisting buildings, including the Chicago Spire, which is being developed by Garrett Kelleher’s Shelbourne Developments.

    The U2 tower was originally meant to be 60 metres high but, by 2005, the height of the proposed building had increased to 100 metres.

    When planning was eventually sought last year, the tower had more than doubled in height to 130 metres.

    Planning was later granted for the 36storey tower over two storeys of basement accommodation, measuring a total of just under 35,000 square metres. The development was only put out to tender after talks between the DDDA and property developer Liam Carroll, who owns a large adjacent site on Britain Quay, broke down.

    The minutes from a DDDA council meeting in July 2005 show that the authority was in active negotiations with Carroll to seek a joint development of his property and the U2 tower site. The DDDA entered the talks because it wanted only the U2 tower built on that side of the river.

    The problem was that Carroll already had planning permission for a 100 metre tower on his site. The DDDA proposed that it would offer Carroll two options for a joint development of his property and the DDDA site, but one of the conditions was that only theU2 tower would be built.

    After the meeting, the DDDA was accused of being ‘‘breathtaking in its arrogance’’ by Gerry Fay, one of its council members, for assuming that its tower should take precedence over Carroll’s, which already had planning permission.

    It was ‘‘patently obvious that the DDDA completely underestimated the scale of development required at this location in 2000,when the original plans were drawn up’’, Fay wrote in a letter to the DDDA.

    ‘‘The DDDA were caught ball-watching – rolled and mugged, once again they are now playing catch-up.”

    The DDDA wants only one tower built on the south docks because it wishes to create a ‘‘landmark entry’’ to Dublin via the U2 tower on the south docks and the Watchtower building being planned by businessman Harry Crosbie on the north docks.

    The reasoning behind this has yet to be fully explained, given that very few people will enter the city by passing the sites.

    Last year, the DDDA decided to add an amendment to its planning scheme for the Grand Canal Dock area. It said that only one tower was to be developed in the area and made it site-specific, meaning that the only place where one could be built was on theU2 tower site.

    ‘‘The requirements for such a tower would not be satisfied by any other landmark tower that may be permitted or constructed in the Grand Canal Dock area,” stated the draft amendment.

    This proved a significant move, because Carroll was not even close to completing the development of his site and the planning permission was due to expire.

    Carroll started work on the site, but Dublin City Council, which had granted permission for his tower and associated developments, ruled that insufficient works had been carried out and an extension of the planning permission would not be appropriate. An appeal was also turned down.

    Carroll lodged legal proceedings in the Commercial Court in March challenging the council’s decision. If he does not win the case, he is unlikely to ever be allowed build a tower on his site.

    An informed source told The Sunday Business Post last week there had been talks between the DDDA and Carroll on the issue and suggested a possible solution might be reached, by allowing increased density on his site in return for reducing the tower’s height. A senior industry source also said the DDDA was in talks with Carroll to acquire some of his site.

    It is not clear why the DDDA is so emphatic about only having one tower in the south docks. The docklands has few high-profile buildings – a point emphasised by the artists shortlisted for a sculpture for the docks, with sculptor Dorothy Cross branding the area ‘‘generic and second rate’’.

    Perhaps in acknowledgement of this, the DDDA commissioned a tall buildings study for the North Lotts area and is also part of a consortium planning high rise development on the South Wharf site in Ringsend.

    Most property developers believe the authority will eventually have to back down and allow more high-rise development in the docklands.

    Many developers have already prepared for it, developing buildings with foundations strong enough to allow them increase their property heights when the DDDA eases its height restrictions.

    Going up seems a matter of when, not if – but, as those involved in the U2 tower process have found to their cost, ‘‘when’’ can be an awfully long time where the docklands are concerned.

    in reply to: hickeys and parkgate street #778483

    @Devin wrote:

    Amusing to see the Board resort to name-calling – that’s usually left to objectors!

    The unfortunate scheme:

    Looks like nearly every other scheme built in Ireland in the past few years :-). Spencer dock’s new apartments spring to mind.

    Great to see the board using design as a reason to refuse planning, hopefully they are determined to set some new precedents.

    Developers will learn pretty quickly that they need to produce high quality schemes, because it will cost them big in terms of redesigns and lost time if they are turned down for bland schemes.

    in reply to: Vertigo? U2 tower to be taller #750322

    @constat wrote:

    Must disagree with you there JP, the French are streets ahead of the Irish when it comes to moaning !

    But is it that the French moan about everybody else, whereas we moan about ourselves? 🙂

    in reply to: Vertigo? U2 tower to be taller #750317

    @jdivision wrote:

    If you’d lived in the docklands you wouldn’t be saying that. I did. I moved out after six months. It was horrendous. Things will improve eventually but the IFSC phase 2 in particular has largely been a disaster

    I actually live in Grand canal dock, for the last year 😀

    I think gc dock will be seen as mostly successful, agreed the ifsc is pretty crap.

    in reply to: Vertigo? U2 tower to be taller #750315

    @alonso wrote:

    All I’ll say is if we were rich enough to build so much shite we were rich enough to build higher quality stuff. To accept the built environemtn created by the boom without question smacks of Irish self deprecating “sure it’s grand, we’re only Ireland” ballsology. The Docks is a monument to this attitude. It’s better than what it was, but totally useless compared to what it should have been. It’s not “moaning”, it’s striving for a better country…

    You do have a good point Alonso, there’s just a balance to be struck – the Irish (imho) are far too negative about Ireland generally. Yes the docklands could certainly be better. Hopefully better things to come.

    in reply to: Vertigo? U2 tower to be taller #750313

    @jdivision wrote:

    As for having nothing to moan about in this country, I take it you’re being sarcastic.

    If there’s one thing the Irish ARE world leaders at, it’s moaning

    in reply to: Vertigo? U2 tower to be taller #750301

    I really hope they don’t f**k this up, we don’t need another bloody Carlton

Viewing 20 posts - 61 through 80 (of 94 total)

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