The local authority that manages the Jack Lynch tunnel in Cork has been urged to compete against the private sector for the tender to run it as part of a single contract with the Dublin Port tunnel.
The call came from Cllr Denis O’Flynn (Lab) at a meeting this week of Cork City Council.
“We have managed the tunnel for the last 13 years and we have done a superb job,” Mr O’Flynn said.
“My worry is this: if it’s handed over to a private company, we will be pushed aside and could have no say whatsoever in when it closes for maintenance.”
He said given the city’s experience in this area, city manager Tim Lucey should consider preparing a bid for the competitive tender to operate both the Dublin Port tunnel, and the Jack Lynch tunnel.
His comments came after it emerged that the National Roads Authority wants to remove the tunnel’s operation and maintenance from the city council.
Last week, the Irish Examiner reported the NRA is “strongly of the view” the State could achieve savings if the tunnel management was bundled into a single contract along with the operation and maintenance of the Dublin Port tunnel.
“We believe that combining the operation of the Jack Lynch tunnel and the Dublin Port tunnel into a single operations contract will bring efficiencies and related savings as compared with the individual cost of operating both tunnels independently,” the NRA said.
It would also link the Jack Lynch tunnel into the 24-hour monitoring system provided by Dublin Port tunnel operator, Transroute International.
Mr Lucey said that he would consider Mr O’Flynn’s suggestion, before launching a robust defence of the council’s management of the tunnel since it opened to traffic in 1999.
“The city council has operated the Jack Lynch tunnel for 13 years in a highly efficient and cost effective manner,” he said.
“The council has at all times been incredibly responsive to the local traffic needs and local requirements.”
He said he recognises the NRA wants to examine the potential for achieving savings and efficiencies, and respects the authority’s right to do that.
“But that remains to be seen. The Jack Lynch tunnel is probably the busiest tunnel in the country. The operation we have down there is extremely efficient compared to others.”
He said if the contract for its operation and maintenance was put out to the private sector, the city council will seek a high level of engagement with the NRA to ensure it meets local requirements.
The council is writing to the NRA seeking a meeting to discuss the issue.
The NRA has said it proposes to advertise the Dublin Port tunnel contract “in the coming weeks” and the Jack Lynch tunnel contract must be included from the outset of that process.
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