It's the great Luas dig as 20km of pipes are to be taken up in capital
MORE than 20km of pipes and wires will be moved from underneath some of Dublin's busiest shopping streets from early next year to allow construction of the new Luas line.
GMC Utilities Group has been awarded a two-year contract to complete utility works needed to allow construction of the €380m Luas Cross City project, the Irish Independent has learnt.
But the works will not begin until early next year to facilitate shoppers during the busy Christmas period.
While new traffic diversions will be put in place and a construction compound built on St Stephen's Green in the meantime, no streets will be dug up until at least January.
The 5.6km Luas Cross City will link the Red and Green lines, running from St Stephen's Green to Broombridge near Cabra, and include 13 stops.
Streets affected will include St Stephen's Green, Dawson Street, Westmoreland Street and O'Connell Street. The first trams will run from late 2017.
The utility works will take 21 months to complete, after which track-laying will begin. Some services will be upgraded and replaced if necessary.
This series of works are considered among the most complex for the entire project because of the multitude of utilities running under the city – on one section of Westmoreland Street alone, there are 75 separate pipes and ducts.
About 44 square kilometres of streetscape will be dug up to accommodate the works, and utilities will be moved out of the path of the tram so that any future maintenance or upgrading will not affect operations.
A spokeswoman for Luas Cross City said businesses and local residents would be kept informed of when works would take place.
"The on-street works will begin after the busy Christmas period, in January 2014," she said. "In the meantime, the necessary site compounds, traffic management measures and work programmes will be developed.
"Over the duration of the project these works will be planned and implemented in consultation with key stakeholders including Dublin City Council, An Garda Siochana, other public transport bodies, local businesses, residents and local area representatives.
"This will ensure effective communication and engagement with the public in advance of changes to traffic arrangements."
The Railway Procurement Agency (RPA), which is responsible for the line's construction, will use a form of contract where it will assume risk in the event of problems developing.
Large infrastructure projects in the past tended to involve the contractor assuming the risk, but there were concerns they resulted in higher tender prices.
Under this contract, if a problem emerges the RPA and contractor will discuss what changes are needed, with the contractor paid to complete those works.
The spokeswoman said this was to ensure that work continued even if problems emerged, instead of the project stalling while negotiations were under way which could delay the project. GMC will be obliged to retain access to St Stephen's Green north at all times during the works, and keep one lane open on Dawson Street. Three lanes of traffic will also be maintained through College Green.