Tuesday, 2 November 2021
Saincheisteanna Tráthúla - Topical Issue Debate
As I said, some of the money is already sitting in accounts waiting for the legal issues to be resolved. Some €3.46 million was allocated in April 2014 and a further €415,000 was issued in the same year for the section in Reenard. Some of that amount is in dormant accounts waiting to be used. Considering how inflation has raised significantly since then in construction, and how some of the work on the viaduct tunnel bridges would probably be more significant than on an ordinary route, one can see how it would be expensive. Transport Infrastructure Ireland has a critical role to play in this. Its designation, working with local authorities, to have the responsibility of rolling out of this national network of greenways was made quite deliberately. Transport Infrastructure Ireland is one of our best delivery agents. It tends to deliver projects on time and on budget. It has real engineering expertise and skills. I will say to TII that a requirement of good engineering is to get good value for money. The importance of that is not to undermine any one project or not to spare money on the likes of this project, which is a spectacular project that takes one's breath away. The route will look out over Kells Bay on a promontory railway line. The engineers had a hell of an imagination and nerve in 1893 when they built it. It will, therefore, require significant investment. In general, we must be careful not to over-engineer or over-spec the route, and that we get as good value for money as possible so that we can get as many kilometres done as possible, in many instances with minimal intervention and low-cost measures.
During Covid times, we saw what was achieved in Dún Laoghaire. Some might say it is different, but it is not that different. It was a section of roadway on a beautiful seafront. That was completed for a fraction of the cost that people expected because we had a local director of services who was willing to be brave, to think innovatively and to do things differently in experimental ways. I hope TII and Kerry County Council will take the same approach. We will have to spend money on the railway section because it is very special, but the intention is to complete the overall network in a way that does not cost the earth.