Major transport projects should be worked on 24/7 for earlier completion and to ensure less disruption for commuters, a Fine Gael Senator has said.
Kildare Senator, Anthony Lawlor, was speaking as the roadworks to widen the M7 motorway in Kildare continue 12 months after they began. The construction works on the M7 Dublin-Limerick motorway, one of the country’s busiest roads, are expected to continue until mid-2019.
Senator Lawlor said in future, those tendering for major transport projects should include a cost-benefit of incremental completion dates and there should be a bias towards earlier completion of the project in the tender process.
“When it comes to planning of major public transport infrastructure projects, a common issue at the tender stage is a failure to identify all the relevant costs and benefits.
“Specifically, public transport infrastructure projects should include a cost-benefit of incremental completion dates with a bias towards earlier completion of the project.
“We live in an age when construction can be carried out 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This should be the case for all future transport projects where it is permissible. The planning of public transport infrastructure must include a greater emphasis on the cost-benefit analysis of shorter construction timeframes,” Senator Lawlor said.
While construction works take place on the M7 during weekdays, they are significantly reduced at weekends.
Senator Lawlor said if roadworks, and the associated effects of noise and traffic do not impact negatively on residential areas or the immediate environment, project managers must look at continuous construction on transport sites.
“The transport network is important in facilitating and supporting economic growth in the national, regional and local economy. Prolonged construction times must be avoided. We need to minimise the economic, social and environmental impacts of major road and rail transport projects during construction.
“While this may negatively impact on construction costs, the social, economic and environmental benefits are potentially huge.
“For example, the cost of congestion during construction of major road building projects should be considered and should influence the planning and tendering process. The annual cost of time lost on Irish roads due to congestion in 2012 was €358 million. That annual cost will rise to €2.08 billion in 2033,” Senator Lawlor said.
“Safety and quality are of course paramount in public infrastructure but the delivery time for projects must inform all stages of the planning, tendering and project management process. Increasing the productivity of construction sites with contract incentives are part of the solution to earlier completion of major projects,” Senator Lawlor concluded.