The future of the multi-million euro Dunkettle interchange project in Cork is “in the hands of the Government as to how to proceed”, the chief executive of construction firm Sisk has said.
Stephen Bowcott said that Sisk, which was awarded the first-phase preparatory contract for the €100m upgrade last year, said his firm was ready to proceed once the Government gave the project the greenlight.
It remains in talks over the second-phase construction project costs, the construction firm said. More than 100,000 vehicles use the interchange every day and it has become one of the biggest congestion blackspots in Cork.
The site was found in recent months to be more challenging than previously believed, Sisk said in April.
The Government will have to sign off on the funds for it to proceed to construction.
Mr Bowcott said: “There are design changes under discussion. The pre-construction stage is going well but it has to get through the department. It’s up to the Government now to decide which way it goes forward.”
He made the comments after Sisk said it posted a pre-tax profit of €28.3m in 2018 as turnover rose 24% to just under €1.2bn.
Its Cork and regional business overtook Dublin for the first time, Mr Bowcott said.
“We did more than €400m in Cork and the regions, and just over €300m in Dublin. That’s a feather in the cap and worth noting,” he said.
Mr Bowcott said housing and public transport needed a “kick up the backside” if economic growth was to continue.“We need better and faster rail links between Cork and Dublin, and better links between Cork and Limerick. It is just unacceptable. There are job prospects in Ireland that cannot be filled because of a lack of housing and infrastructure.
“Having jobs in Cork or Limerick or Sligo is equally important as having them in Dublin. The issue is that people cannot get to Dublin within a quick timeframe. Despite the UK’s troubles, to get from Cardiff or Manchester to London every day, you can do so and get home. High-speed rail between Cork and Dublin is essential, as is the M20 motorway between Cork and Limerick,” he said.
Mr Bowcott said the ‘build-to-rent’ model was “here to stay”, and would be integral as one of the solutions to the housing crisis.
Build-to-rent describes homes and apartment blocks built specifically for renting in the long-term, typically with amenities in the same development. It was an attractive alternative to owning homes and was becoming more attractive to younger people, Mr Bowcott said.