DUBLIN'S PORT tunnel construction contract award at almost twice the budgeted price ends the controversy over use of New Austrian Tunnelling Method.
The Irishenco/Mowlem/Nishimatsu consortium's ú265M ($377M) bid beat four rivals with a proposal to use two tunnel boring machines to drive the twin 4.5km motorway tunnels. Design work is by consultants Charles Haswell and Carl Bro.
The cost savings gained by incorporating a 2.4km section of NATM lining and realigning the tunnel to shorten it had gained approval for the scheme from the Irish government in 1994.
The project was only expected to cost ú78M.
But NATM, originally mooted by Arup and Geoconsult in detailed pre-tender designs started in 1994 was offered as a solution by only one of the five tenderers.
The latest price hike is likely to cause serious government concern after warnings in September that escalating tender prices could threaten the country's ú15bn infrastructure programme.
But according to client Dublin Corporation, the winning bid was the lowest price. Deputy project engineer Hugh Creegan said: 'This is a reasonable price, and the funding has already been allocated by the National Roads Authority.'