The Dunkettle Interchange Upgrade Scheme was officially opened today by the Tánaiste, Micheál Martin TD, marking a significant milestone in enhancing transportation infrastructure and connectivity in Cork. The €215m project promises to alleviate congestion, improve safety, and streamline traffic flow for the region’s residents and businesses.
The Dunkettle Interchange is the junction of four national roads, the M8 Cork – Dublin Motorway, the N25 Cork – Waterford / Rosslare route, the N40 Cork South Ring Road and the N8 Dunkettle – Cork city National Route. The Interchange is located approximately 5 kilometres east of Cork City centre and lies mainly within the Cork City Council administrative area.
Whilst advance works including archaeological and ground investigations got underway in 2016, the main construction contract was awarded by Transport Infrastructure Ireland to John Sisk & Son Ltd in October 2020. The project has delivered 18 new road links totalling 10km in length; seven new bridge structures as well as upgrade works carried out on five pre-existing structures; and upgrades and resurfacing works to the N25 road between Tivoli Roundabout and the Little Island Interchange. In addition, 2.9km of new walkways and cycleways have been developed including the provision of a new bridge across the Cork-Midleton railway line; intelligent Transport Systems throughout the upgraded Interchange; and installation of new culverts and pollution control facilities, landscaping works, directional signage, safety barriers, etc.
Traffic volumes through the Dunkettle interchange are at an all-time high, approaching 120,000 vehicles on the busier days of the week. Despite this, Transport Infrastructure Ireland reports that journey times during peak hours have reduced by almost 50% on average as a result of this upgrade project.
Journey time savings of almost 60% are being achieved on the N40 to N25 route during peak hours, whilst time savings of over 50% are being achieved on routes accessed via the M8 Southbound.
Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr. Kieran McCarthy said: “The new Interchange stands as an important additional piece in the strategic transport infrastructure in metropolitan Cork. This year marks 25 years since the Jack Lynch Tunnel opened, which in its day was seen as an engineering feat. The new interchange is also an engineering feat and adds to the adjacent tunnel’s story and narratives. In our time, the removal of critical bottlenecks creates better traffic flows but also greater connectivity between communities on either side of the River Lee’s estuary. The enhanced connectivity facilitated by this project will undoubtedly fuel progress and opportunity for generations to come.”
Tánaiste Micheál Martin TD said: “I’m delighted to officially open the Dunkettle Interchange Upgrade Scheme today. This infrastructure project represents a significant investment in Cork’s future and provides a vital link in the region’s transport network. I believe that it will be a catalyst for enhancing economic and social activity right across Cork and the entire Munster region.”
Mayor of the County of Cork, Cllr. Frank O’Flynn said: “The completion of this project is a significant milestone in the development of the southern region. Cork County Council will be working closely with our colleagues in Cork City Council to build on the work done at Dunkettle in terms of active travel infrastructure and deliver further enhancements both east and west of the interchange. The Dunkettle interchange works also support the Council and ambition of developing sustainable travel modes by facilitating safe pedestrian and cyclist mobility in the context of the ongoing development of the Eastern Metropolitan Active Travel Corridor which it is planned will extend to Midleton in the near future. These initiatives make it a particularly exciting time in terms of quality-of-life improvements for the people of Cork.”
Peter Walsh, Chief Executive of Transport Infrastructure Ireland, said: “The Dunkettle Project completion marks the culmination of a journey that has been ten years in the making. Planning permission for the scheme was first received in 2013, and ongoing close collaboration between the Government, Transport Infrastructure Ireland, Cork City Council, Cork County Council, John Sisk & Son Ltd. and Jacobs allowed the project to move forward. It was delivered through innovation and commitment by the entire project team and with the support and patience of the public.”
Will Merriman, Managing Director of Sisk’s Civil Engineering Ireland, said: “Dunkettle was an extremely complex project, working in and around live traffic at one of the country’s busiest intersections, in a major urban environment. We are delighted to have now delivered and handed over the project which has already improved traffic flow, mobility, and multi-user access in the region. I am particularly pleased that we have delivered on our promise of the highest standards of safety and quality with this complex infrastructure project.”
Patrick de Feu, Project Manager, Jacobs stated: “Jacobs welcome the opening of the Dunkettle Interchange, a project we have been involved in for over 10 years. Cork is a vibrant, growing city, a location that is hugely attractive for investment and as a place to live and work. Infrastructure projects like the Dunkettle Interchange Upgrade are critical to contribute positively to the quality of life for the community, sustain economic development and continue to ensure Cork’s position as a thriving city.”
The contract for the Dunkettle Interchange Upgrade Scheme includes a 3-year maintenance period which will run until 2027. In addition to environmental monitoring and landscaping management, this will also include an ongoing focus on monitoring traffic flows through the network.
For more information about the Dunkettle Interchange Upgrade Scheme, please visit www.dunkettle.ie.