Limerick firm to help build Shannon toll tunnel

THE €370 million contract to build and run a toll road tunnel under the River Shannon has been won by a business consortium which includes a Limerick road construction company.

The company is expected to earn up to €2m a week in tolls when the tunnel opens in 2010.

The National Roads Authority (NRA) has awarded the Direct Route Consortium the contract to build a new super highway which will include a 600 metre long tunnel under the Shannon, west of Limerick city.

The development will be phase two of Limerick’s Southern Ring road network. The consortium includes Roadbridge Ltd, headed by Limerick businessman, Pat Mulcair. It has been involved in a number of major road developments around the country.

Work is due to begin in weeks and take about four years to complete.

The 9.75km of four lane roadway will run from Rossbrien on the southern side of the Shannon to Coonagh, near the Radisson Hotel on the northern side.

The NRA considered four shortlisted tenders.

A spokesman for the NRA said: “The NRA, having carefully considered the proposals received from the four short listed tenders, has identified the direct route consortium as the tender with the most economically advantageous tender and this consortium has got the contract.”

The Direct Route Consortium also includes developers, John Sisk & Son, Lagan Holdings Ltd, Kellogg Brown & Root Ltd, and Strabag AG.

The development is a public private partnership and the consortium will collect all tolls from the new roadway for an agreed number of years.

The NRA held an oral hearing in Limerick last year regarding tolls on the new motorway where the only objections came from road hauliers who claim the proposed toll charges will discourage hauliers from using the new roadway.

Planners say the new roadway will divert more than 40,000 vehicles a day away from the congested city centre river crossings, Shannon Bridge, Sarsfield Bridge and Thomond Bridge.

A tunnel option was chosen by Limerick County Council following a report in May 2001 by consultant engineers, MC O’Sullivan and Co and a Danish Company COWI.

A high level bridge plan was rejected early on.

The consultants also came down against a low level bridge crossing on the grounds as the bridge would have to ‘open’ for shipping and this would delay peak traffic flow.

The new four-lane tunnel roadway is due to open in 2010.

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