Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII), which is in charge of the multi-million euro junction upgrade, is to lay the fibreoptic cables in advance of the work to ensure they feed information to a series of flashing signs which will be strategically placed on roads which feed into the area.
TII spokesman Sean O’Neill said a key factor in managing the impact of the work will be the ability to communicate to drivers in real-time.
“Therefore, a fibre network will be installed that will allow us to utilise an extensive variable message signage [VMS] and inform drivers on approaching routes in advance of potential impacts, or allow people to adjust their plans in accordance with the actual traffic movements on any given occasion,” he said.
The bulk of the construction work will not take place until 2019.
Next year, in advance of that, TII, which was formerly the National Roads Authority, will lay down the fibreoptic cabling and get the VMS systems in place.
“The plan is to have extensive traffic management systems in place ahead of the main construction phase which will assist in managing the hourly and daily impacts for road users,” Mr O’Neill said.
“This is all part and parcel of an intelligent, real-time transportation information network which ultimately will be part of the day-to-day operations.”
It is expected that the VSM systems will remain operational until the project is completed, which TII say is likely to be in early 2021.
“The Dunkettle upgrade project will be one of the most complex ever undertaken in the country, similar to the Red Cow upgrade in Dublin,” Mr O’Neill said.
He admitted that, because of the complex nature of the project, there will be disruption, although he added that TII would be doing everything in their power to make sure these disruptions are kept to a minimum.
The VSM systems are expected to be installed on all major roads leading to the Jack Lynch Tunnel, such as the M8, N8, N25, and N40.
This will provide motorists with advance warning of delays and expected journey times, so during any serious disruption, they can divert.
TII says the upgrade is vital as junction is at over- capacity — 100,000 vehicles use it each day.
Bord Pleanála gave the green light to the upgrade in 2013.
The plan involves creating a number of dedicated local access roads around the junction, thus separating those making local journeys from regional and national journeys.
The signalised roundabout at the north end of the tunnel will be removed for total free flow and a dedicated slip road will be built on the city side of the tunnel so traffic can directly access the northbound lanes of the M8.