independent

Sunday 26 October 2014

Tenders double estimated costs

Anne Campbell

Published 14/07/2013 | 00:00

A spokesperson for Louth County Council has said that, due to the funding shortfall, the Narrow Water Bridge project is ‘now effectively on hold’.

THE future of the Narrow Water bridge project hangs in the balance today after Louth County Council revealed that tenders received for the construction of the iconic link between North and South are far in excess of what it had been estimated the project would cost to build.

THE future of the Narrow Water bridge project hangs in the balance today after Louth County Council revealed that tenders received for the construction of the iconic link between North and South are far in excess of what it had been estimated the project would cost to build.

The stunning news, which has left council officials dumbstruck, revealed how tenders received from construction companies for the project ranged from €26 million to €40 million – far in excess of the €20 million in funding secured by the council based on estimates provided by leading engineering consultancy firm Roughan O'Donovan.

The news has been received with dismay and disappointment on the Northern side of the border and Louth chairperson, Cllr. Declan Breathnach, who is also chairman of the Memorandum of Understanding joint committee that works between Newry and Louth councils, said he was very concerned by the latest development.

He said: 'I am extremely disappointed for the people on both sides of the border who wanted this bridge and for the officials who have worked so hard in getting it to this stage – they have done remarkable work.

'What has been described to me is unprecedented in the tendering process and the gap appears to be huge. I have said before that this project doesn't just have hurdles to jump, it's like the Grand National, and we're only over Beecher's Brook.

'But a development like this will ensure that we redouble our efforts to get this bridge delivered for the people of this area, North and South. I'm very concerned about what's happened but I'm calling on philanthropists and business people in this region to see what they can to do to help this flagship project'.

The spokesperson for Louth County Council said in a statement: 'Having examined all of the tenders received from contractors competing to build the bridge, it is clear that their estimates of the cost of construction are considerably higher than the figures we have been working with to date.

'This leaves us with a substantial funding shortfall. Our focus now is on seeing if this can be filled through any combination of additional funding and cost reductions.

'While our ambition remains to see this socially and economically desirable project through to completion, the reality is that it is now effectively on hold. At this time, we want to record our appreciation for the support that we have received to date from all of the various stakeholders in both the Republic and Northern Ireland'.

The current Narrow Water Bridge project commenced in 2008 when Louth County Council engaged Roughan O'Donovan Consulting Engineers to design a bridge in keeping with the outstanding natural beauty in the area. The single-carriageway, 195 metres cable-stayed bridge is designed to connect Cornamucklagh with Narrow Water near Warrenpoint and the total length of the proposed scheme is 620m.

The bridge across the Newry River at Narrow Water has the support of the Republic of Ireland of Ireland and Northern Ireland governments and secured funding of approximately €17.4m earlier this year from the INTERREG IVA programme administered by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB).

The project also won approval last year from An Bord Pleanála and the Northern Ireland planning authorities.

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