Tuesday 17 September 2019

Sisk 'disappointed' at TII's move to delay roads project

Dunkettle interchange could now be delayed for 10 years, writes Fearghal O'Connor

The Dunkettle Interchange
The Dunkettle Interchange

The country's largest construction company has said it is "disappointed" by the decision of Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) to delay a major piece of roads infrastructure.

The second phase of work on the long-awaited €100m upgrade of the Dunkettle interchange in Cork is to be re-tendered due to a higher-than-anticipated cost on the project. The scheme could now be delayed by up to 10 years, according to senior figures in the construction sector.

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The interchange is seen as a central part of plans for a major upgrade of roads in the south of the country, including the M20, M22 and N28.

TII said in a statement that due to "the worse-than-anticipated ground conditions and the consequent increase in scope, it is necessary to return to the market for the tendering of the main works contract".

The original winner of the Dunkettle tender, Sisk, said that it had "done everything possible" to get to the second stage of the project. It said it would now "continue to work with TII on the enabling works programme and do everything possible to mitigate delays to the overall completion".

"We are disappointed by the decision of Transport Infrastructure Ireland to seek new tenders for stage two of the main construction works at the Dunkettle interchange in Cork," said Tom Byrne, head of communications at John Sisk & Son. "It is disappointing for our people who have developed the plans and methodology for this complex scheme, with the mantra of 'keep Cork moving' foremost in their minds, and who are totally committed to its safe delivery for all stakeholders. We have done everything possible to get stage two over the line."

Byrne said that Sisk was selected as the best partner to develop the design and to work up the overall costs of the scheme with TII. The company has carried out more than €1bn of contracts with TII in the past and was committed to "continue to play a role in the upcoming projects included in Project Ireland 2040".

He added: "Unfortunately, despite extensive collaboration, the costs have not met expectations and therefore Sisk respects TII's right to seek new tenders for the main construction works.

"The procurement approach adopted by TII was unquestionably appropriate and the project has benefited considerably from the work carried out by Sisk in stage one, and this has been acknowledged by TII."

A director of the Construction Industry Federation, Conor O'Connell, hit out at the delay in the project, saying it could set it back 10 years.

O'Connell said that the delay to the Dunkettle interchange was just one of many to hit projects in the south-west region, and that over the past decade, "no strategic infrastructural project has been delivered in the region that has the fastest-growing population and jobs growth outside of the Dublin region, accounting for 20pc of GDP".

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