Last month I sought additional clarity as to the delivery of key objectives as part of the Phase 2, 3 and 4 of Royal Canal Greenway, following on from the information supplied to me by City Council officials in March and how the Covid-19 Pandemic had effected that timetable or schedule.
Senior officials and engineers advised me that the key objectives of the Royal Canal Greenway project are to deliver a successful cycling and walking facility which maximises the following factors:
– Segregation from high-speed motorised traffic and heavy goods vehicles.
– Provide route continuity, particularly at road crossings.
– Provide a riding surface with a high level of comfort whilst minimising maintenance costs.
– Provide convenience to users
– Provide an attractive route to encourage use.
– Provide a safe facility.
– Respect the requirements of relevant third parties.
The project links the Docklands area to the whole of North Dublin, with an orbital route intersecting with the main radial routes into the city centre. It also links southward along the previously completed phase one section at Spencer Dock and across the River Liffey on the Samuel Beckett Bridge to the Grand Canal Cycleway on the south side, thus providing a ring route around the eastern side of the city centre. When complete, this first class, multi-purpose, off-line walking and cycling route will form part of the Royal Canal Greenway connecting Cloondara on the River Shannon in County Longford to the River Liffey in Dublin city.
Phase 2: Sheriff Street Upper to NewcomenBridge, North Strand: 0.7km – scheduled for completion June/July 2020.
The junction at Seville Place has been redesigned to provide a more cyclist-friendly junction, independent of direction and departure. A new pedestrian crossing adjacent to Spencer Bridge was constructed to facilitate the safe passage of pedestrians and cyclists from the Royal Canal Phase 2 scheme to Guild Street. The new layout has optimised the sequencing and timing of traffic lights to favour pedestrians and cyclists and removed the pedestrian guard rail at Seville Place which will be replaced with landscaping.
The project will provide an attractive new linear green space. The ground adjacent to the canal will be landscaped with segregated pedestrian and cycle paths. There will be extensive tree planting along the route to provide screening as well as open spaces located centrally along the site which will be planted with meadow grass. The existing canal wall will be rehabilitated along this section and similarly the boundary wall on the opposite side of the site has been extensively repaired. At the entrance to the project a new elevated viewing platform will be constructed with a series of granite curved steps on approach. Throughout the site there will be public lighting and CCTV located every 100m to ensure safety for users.
Throughout the project there has been extensive consultation with local communities and third parties from project inception through to construction. Entry and exit to the cycleway is only available at North Strand Road and Sheriff Street as the local community did not want access points located throughout the site which could lead to anti-social behaviour. A pontoon has been installed at the request of Waterways Ireland at the north west end of the site to facilitate the mooring of boats and canoes. As mentioned earlier rehabilitation works will be carried out to the canal wall along with the complete reconstruction of 61m of the wall.
Construction works on the site ceased on 28thMarch 2020 following the Government announcement for Covid-19 restrictions. Works are expected to recommence in May 2020 subject to restrictions being relaxed and if the site is deemed suitable to recommence activity and satisfy the new requirements for social distancing and safe working for Covid-19.
Phase 3: Newcomen Bridge, North Strand to Cross Guns Bridge, Phibsborough: 2.1km – construction scheduled to start Q4 2020
It is expected that the project will be ready to go to tender by the end of May 2020. The final decision on whether to tender the project at this stage will be taken in compliance with the current Office of Government Procurement Covid 19 recommendations.
Phase 4: Cross Guns Bridge, Phibsborough to Longford Bridge, Ashtown (City Boundary): 4.3km
A preferred bidder has been identified for the construction of sub-phase 4A (bus and cycle contra-flow and signalised towpath crossing of Broombridge Road at Broome Bridge), however we are not in a position to appoint the contractor until current COVID-19 restrictions are eased. The Law Department are finalising temporary works licences and easement/wayleave agreements with Waterways Ireland and CIÉ for works on their bridges. Construction should commence within 3-4 weeks of any easing of current prohibitions on construction works. The works were originally anticipated to take 3 months to complete, however they are now expected to take a bit longer due to the need to impose social distancing requirements on site.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had only a minor impact on design work for the remaining sub-phases, as both the project and design teams are now working and meeting remotely.
Detailed design of sub-phase 4B (main towpath upgrade) is nearing completion, with land acquisition/taking in charge agreements to be reached for small parcels of land. Tender documents are being prepared for a ground investigation contract and this is due to go to tender once ready, with works due to take place this summer. It is anticipated that construction will commence in Q4 2020, with likely completion in Q4 2021. Dredging of the canal will be required for some sections.
Progression of the design for sub-phase 4C (remainder of towpath upgrade, including 7th Lock/Liffey Junction railway underpass upgrade) and sub-phase 4D (Tolka Valley Park – Phoenix Park greenway link via Ashtown) remains contingent on a number of factors as previously advised. It is hoped that all of Phase 4 will be completed by the end of 2023.
Fine Gael Councillor - North Inner City
Leader, Fine Gael, Dublin City Council
Chair, Urban Form & Planning Strategic Policy Committee