Noel Dempsey, Irish Minister for the Environment and Local Government, has approved construction of the $249.6m, 4.5km long twin-bore Dublin Port road tunnel. Work is scheduled to start towards the end of 2000. The contractor and method have yet to be finalised. Five JVs from the ten who pre-qualified have been shortlisted.

The tunnel will relieve congestion, improve the city environment and enable continued development of the Dublin Port to take place.

The scheme has been approved subject to 14 modifications designed mainly to prevent or mitigate environmental and construction impact.

The planned tunnel will pass under the Dublin-Belfast main railway line at Fairview and UK consultant Gibb Ltd has been appointed by Irish Railways to provide specialist design services and construction assistance for the crossing. The cover is low – 5 -3.8m – and the tunnel will be driven through poor ground. A detailed risk assessment has been performed relating construction disturbance and predicted tunnel settlement to railway infrastructure and operation.

Division director of Gibb Tunnelling, Bob Irvine, says: "By combining a thorough under-standing of both tunnelling and rail requirements, Gibb is finalising a design which minimises disruption risk to Irish Railway’s operation, whilst maintaining integration with the overall Dublin Port Tunnel Scheme."