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Dublin denies tunnel trouble

NEWS - Safety fears and rumours of huge cost overruns on late job based on misinformation and confusion, says council boss

DUBLIN City Council has hit back at claims of leaks and cost increases that have plagued the Dublin Port Tunnel and prompted fears for workers' lives.

City manager John Fitzgerald said: 'There has been a lot of misinformation about the Dublin Port Tunnel and it is important I set the record straight on a number of issues, particularly regarding the water leaks, the cost, repairs to houses above the tunnel and the height.

'The recent water leaks in the tunnel are part and parcel of routine ssues that arise on a huge engineering project like this. The leaks look worse than they are and make for great pictures but the reality is that they are minor and will be fixed well in advance of the opening.' The Services, Industrial, Professional and Technical Union had expressed fears that workers' lives were at risk due to the leaks on the £500 million tunnel, which is well behind schedule. The job started at the end of 2000 and was originally due to have been completed by early 2005.

It has also been reported that the tunnel could end up costing £900 million once wrangles between contractor Mowlem and the council are concluded.

But according to Mr Fitzgerald there is no danger and reports of cost increases have been confused. His statement said the original budget price was £490 million and the likelihood is that it will come in at between £514 million and £547 million.

Mr Fitzgerald said: 'Any further contractual claims made by the contractor will be vigorously contested by Dublin City Council and the National Roads Authority.'

Mr Fitzgerald added that housing repairs were anticipated and had been exaggerated.

He also said the height of the tunnel would be exactly the same if designed now and said it was acceptable that 2 per cent of trucks using the port would be too tall to drive through it.

The tunnel is expected to open in May 2006.

Mowlem declined to comment.