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€370m link-up of Luas lines to start next month

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WORK on the biggest construction project since the collapse of the economy will begin next month.

The building of the Luas Cross City line, which will link both light-rail systems in the capital, will provide 600 construction jobs until the end of 2017 when it opens.

The €370m project will not only open the city to commuters, it will also give people travelling from the west of Ireland access to the entire Luas network which stretches from Tallaght to the city centre and onto Dundrum shopping centre, commercial parks in Sandyford and Leopardstown and the new National Children's Hospital on St James's Street.

But the works will not be without pain. Traffic flows in the south of the city will be changed, which will result in 60pc of cars being taken off Dawson Street; heritage works including the famous Molly Malone statue will be permanently moved; and bus routes will also be affected during the four-year construction period.

The Irish Independent has also learned that Dublin City Council is considering plans to close College Green to private cars, meaning only pedestrians, cyclists, buses, the new Luas line and taxis would be allowed when the line opens.

A final decision has yet to be made, and the plans are likely to go for public consultation.

The project involves building a 5.6km extension of the Green line from Sandyford and Brides Glen which will run through the city centre from St Stephen's Green to Broombridge, north of Cabra, where it connects with the railway line to Maynooth and onto Longford, Sligo and Westport.

Funded

There will be 13 stops, eight in the city centre, and it will provide access to the new Dublin Institute of Technology campus at Grangegorman.

The National Transport Authority (NTA) is also working with 80 traders around Dawson Street to see if there is interest in building a second stop on the street, after An Bord Pleanala rejected plans for two stops.

The works will be funded by the State, but it is hoped to secure a loan for half the total cost from the European Investment Bank (EIB).

The Railway Procurement Agency (RPA), which is building the line, said that very little land would be required, as almost 2km of the line will be built on land owed by CIE.

The line is backed by local business groups, but Michael Sheedy, director of light rail at the RPA, warned that the works would cause an impact.

"It's not more complex than the other two, but it's in the heart of the city," he said. "The main issues will be at traffic junctions – you can't take out a junction for a month, you have to do the work bit by bit, which is very tedious."

Leo Varadkar: Comment, Page 27

Irish Independent