CIVIL engineering contractors have been invited to submit tenders for a controversial walk and cycle to school project by Dundalk Town Council (DTC) even though the public consultation is still ongoing.
Contractors have been asked to submit their completed tenders to Dundalk Town Council’s Town Engineer Catherine Duff by noon on April 13, less than one day after the deadline for submissions and observations.
Members of the public have until close of business on April 12 to make written submissions or observations about the plan to Frank Pentony, Director of Service. Meanwhile, “suitably qualified and experienced civil engineering contractors” are putting together tenders to build the proposed pedestrian and cyclist infrastructure.
Dundalk Town Council published its invitation to tender for the Dundalk Walk & Cycle to Schools Project-pedestrian and cyclist infrastructure on the website http://etenders.gov.ie on March 25. The notice type is described as “invitation to tender”, and the notice deadline is stated as April 13 at noon.
The Dundalk Smarter Travel - Schools Project involves the construction of a range of infrastructural improvement works along routes to schools that will produce an environment to maximise the level of walking and cycling priority to schools.
The full notice text on the Etenders’ website describes the scope of the works envisaged under the civil engineering contracts as site clearance and set up; construction of cycle lanes (grade separated); construction of cycle lanes (segregated track); footpath construction including drop kerbs, tactile paving etc; street/junction improvement works including the construction of speed control ramps, road markings, raised junction tables etc, traffic signalling works including Pelican, Toucan and Zebra crossings; construction of a pedestrian/cycle bridge; temporary traffic management and safety; landscaping works; and ancillary site works.
The council is advising contractors that recording an interest does not automatically enter them into the tender process for the notice; contractors still have to submit their response by the stated deadline.
According to Pat Stuart of Dundalk Town Council, the local authority has not invited tenders from contractors for the project. He told The Dundalk Democrat that the notice is intended to assess the level of interest in the project.
“It’s only the pre-qualification stage. The council is using the notice to assess the number of contractors interested in the project; if they meet certain criteria and if they are acceptable,” said Mr Stuart.
“Nothing is being given out to tender as such. It’s too early in the process. It’s only short circuiting the procedure so if the council does get the go-ahead for the project, then we have a shortlist of candidates to draw on. It will all depend on Part VIII of the planning procedure that we are following. The public consultation needs to be done first.”
The Dundalk Smarter Travel - Schools Project has drawn criticism from the owner of The Home Bakery, Deirdre Keelan as it provides for the loss of 16 car parking spaces on Jocelyn Street and five parking spaces on Rampart Road, immediately west of Jocelyn Drive.
Ms Keelan set up a petition in The Home Bakery asking people to lobby for the retention of the parking spaces and within a matter of days, the petition garnered over 500 signatures.
The scheme also involves a range of walk and cycle infrastructural changes along the route to St Vincent’s Secondary School and Dun Dealgan NS. In addition, the proposed works will affect Seatown Place, Jocelyn Street, Distillery Lane, Ramparts Road, Jocelyn Drive, and Jocelyn Street/Castle Road junction.
The works will include the provision of cycle lanes (segregated track), one cycle bridge over Ramparts River, speed ramps, six junction improvements, one zebra crossing, and two pelican crossings.
Changes will also be made to routes to CBS Primary School, Colaiste Ris Secondary School, Castletown Girls’ School, St Nicholas’ Monastery School, Marshes Avenue and Tom Bellew Avenue. According to DTC, the project aims to make it safer for children to cycle and walk to school.