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TII ‘could have done more’ to provide Metrolink updates

Transport Infrastucture Ireland (TII) has said it “could have done more” to keep residents in Dublin updated with information related to the Metrolink project.

It follows stinging criticism of the body from residents who claim that TII have been “elusive, dismissive and economic with the facts”.

Anne Meehan, from Prospect Architectural Conservation Area (PACA), told An Bord Pleanála’s oral hearings into the rail project that the constant “drip-feeding of information from TII is unacceptable”.

PACA covers Glasnevin, where a metro station is due to be built and a tunnel will run underground beneath residential properties.

There are 24 Archictectural Conservation Areas (ACA) designated by Dublin City Council all over the city.

According to Dublin City Council, ACAs are “of special character and architectural interest and to preserve that special character.”

These areas typically have stricter planning regulations.

Ms Meehan said that residents’ “genuine” concerns regarding damage to properties, impact of noise vibrations and traffic management plans have not been satisfactorily addressed by TII.

PACA claimed that TII deliberately withheld information from stakeholders during a six-week observation period.

Ms Meehan said TII provided “generic responses” to its concerns.

When TII did respond, PACA said they were provided with links that would either not open or were entirely blank, which frustrated residents’ groups attempting to communicate with TII.

“I feel overwhelmed with the entire process,” Ms Meehan said.

Residents said they often felt ignored by TII and that most of their questions have gone unanswered.

Prospect Architectural Conservation Area said some properties located directly above the underground tunnel date back to 1830.

In its submission to An Bord Pleanála, the group said it is ‘’imperative ancient properties along the route are protected and given special treatment during construction’’

They have also called for extensive surveys to be carried out before construction works starts.

PACA said an online meeting took place with TII in April 2021, but the first face-to-face meeting only took place on 8 February, 11 days before the oral hearings into the rail project began.

Ms Meehan, told An Bord Pleanála inspectors that some of the web links provided by TII are impossible to locate and that the project operator expects “property owners to traverse hundreds if not thousands of documents to get answers to concerns.”

PACA said the response to queries from TII has been “wholly unacceptable” with links to documents provided “that are so large, they are inaccessible to householders”.

Ms Meehan stated that one document provided by TII was 800 pages long and many residents have spent “too many hours, days and sleepless nights” trying to read through complicated technical summaries with language that is often difficult to understand for most people who are not qualified engineering and transport experts.

TII maintains that the links “were operational” adding that it “remains a possibility some people did not get access to those links”.

Hart’s Corner in Glasnevin, near where where a metro station is due to be built

PACA also relayed residents’ concerns about the traffic management plan for the area due to one estimate that between 70 and 150 heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) could be passing through residential estates daily.

The group asked that HGVs be banned from driving through built-up areas to minimise disruption for residents.

TII promised that HGVs will be restricted to travel between Monday and Friday between 7am and 7pm and on Saturdays between 7am and 1pm.

TII also said there will be occasions when “controlled deliveries” will be needed outside of these hours which will take place under garda escort.

TII said a permit will be needed and estimates that these special deliveries will take place between “half a dozen to 20 times for the duration of the programme over six years”.

TII reiterated that the “key message is deliveries [to the site] will take place during working hours”.

PACA told An Bord Pleanála that it is not in favour of the Metrolink in its current form. Representatives said there is no need at all for an underground rail link in the capital.

“It is ridiculous to cause mayhem to so many when existing overground lines are already in place,” Ms Meehan said.

PACA suggested an alternative plan to An Bord Pleanála that would link overground lines connecting the airport and the city centre.

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PACA said Ireland has waited 20 years for a metro line and a few more months to address concerns “won’t make a difference”.

In response, Aidan Foley, Project Director of Metrolink, said to date, the body has conducted more than 3,000 public consultations, received submissions from 1,300 stakeholders and has held 200 meetings with residents’ groups.

TII noted that PACA is open to further discussions and the body has committed to better engage with stakeholders going forward.

TII said it “would never intentionally withhold information from the public” and it has tried to be as “open and transparent as possible”.

Mr Foley said on occasion when TII will not be able to provide all the information requested by the public, the body will endeavor to ensure all updated information relating to Metrolink is posted on the project’s website.

PACA told An Bord Pleanála that it is not in favour of the Metrolink in its current form

“It is a surprise to me that the links [to documents provided] weren’t working. The site is very robust and is working well,” Mr Foley told An Bord Pleanála inspectors.

Mr Foley said it “wasn’t on my radar that [issues with website] was a significant problem” adding that there is a high degree of diligence around the website.

“When we say we put a document up, it is there,” he added.

Mr Foley said in the case of information supplied to Ms Meehan, “something has gone wrong, and we do apologise for that”.

TII also acknowledged that a lot more consultation is needed with residents.

“We are committed to that process,” Mr Foley said.

TII said during construction local community representatives will be “available at all times to answer questions” especially to residents’ groups based around specific stations along the proposed 18.8km route.

Mr Foley pledged to have a “comprehensive mechanism to interact with TII at all stages of project, the stakeholder communication plan will evolve over time,” he said.

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