The contract for the Dunkettle Interchange at the outskirts of Cork City will not be awarded at any cost, and the project could face delays of up to 18 months, Transport Infrastructure Ireland has warned.
TII officials have appeared before the Oireachtas committee on transport, tourism and sport and confirmed Irish Examiner reports that the current contractor may have to be let go if agreement on a target cost for the second stage of the works cannot be agreed.
Contractors Sisk have carried out preliminary works as part of the first stage of the works which were originally estimated to cost €100m. Transport Infrastructure Ireland chief executive Michael Nolan, said he can not offer any more clarity relating to cost or budgets until the process has concluded and that the TII had asked the committee to defer the meeting until it has more information.
“If the target cost is agreed, the process remains on schedule,” Mr Nolan said. “On the other hand, if TII and the contractor do not agree the target cost, then stage two will be removed from the contract and TII will return to the marketplace.
“Notwithstanding the strategic importance of this project, both locally and nationally, it is certainly not a question of awarding the contract at any cost. It is a question of achieving the goal of constructing a fit-for-purpose interchange scheme with the maximum value for taxpayers’ money. TII is committed to ensuring that this goal is achieved.”
Mr Nolan said a new tender process has the potential to delay project completion by 12 to 18 months and defended splitting the works across two stages as it identified risks associated with the project.
If we got into a design-build contract, we would have found those risks during the currency of the contracts, and we would have paid a severe heavy price for discovering those risks during the currency of the works.
"And it would involve additional monies and additional time-significant delay in disruption.
“Dunkettle has all the hallmarks of all the risks that you could ever meet in one location and one little slip up there. We had a rainfall back in November 2015, a half lane got flooded in the [Jack Lynch] Tunnel. It brought Cork to a standstill.
"Public transport didn’t move, people weren’t able to get to the airport, people couldn’t get home from work, or schools. Two metres of road was removed from the equation on a dual carriageway, and it caused chaos.
“So you can see how sensitive this location is. So we can rush into this we could have somebody on site now. And we would find all those problems, it would be a very adversarial, non-collaborative way of working. And, you know, so we may have saved money upfront, maybe a small bit of time, but we’d have paid for it in the long run,” he said.
TII regional manager Paul Moran said stage one allowed TII to get a contractor-developed design.
Because traffic management, how you’re going to manage the traffic on a daily basis, up to 115,000 a day coming through it without shutting Cork City and county down for business, that is absolutely crucial.
“So the two-stage process allowed us get that very, very valuable view from a contractor. And it allowed us to de-risk certain things, that if we didn’t and we went out with conventional type of tender, there would be risks that could realise in significant additional cost,” he said.