S2S – What’s Happening? 14th Feb 2016

Supporters wishing to raise the matter of the matter of the S2S project with politicians canvassing their support in the coming elections and may be wondering about progress, or the lack of it.  The following is the position as of the beginning of 2016- fifteen years since the idea was first proposed.

The project can be broken into three main sections- the North Bay from Sutton to East Wall, the South Bay from Sandymount to Dun Laoghaire and the City Centre section from Alfie Byrne Road to Sean Moore Road.

The North Bay.

Of the 9kms from Sutton to Alfie Byrne Road, all but 2kms of promenade and cycleway exists in some shape or form. Work started at the end of 2014 on the missing 2kms section between the Wooden Bridge and the causeway at Dollymount.  The creation of the walkway and cycleway for this section was combined with the laying of a major water main (needed to complete the north city ring main) and the improvement in the flood defences.  The works were stopped in mid-2015 following protests by local residents about the height and finish of the new sea wall.  Following discussions between representatives of the community and Dublin City Council, a further issue emerged with regard to DCC’s entitlement to continue with the works during the winter months.  It is understood that an accommodation was reached whereby work would be suspended on the sea wall but could continue on the water main and the cycleway and footpath, until the other matters were resolved.  That remains the position. It is reported in the Irish Times of 12th Feb that in a draft report seen by that newspaper, Dr. Jimmy Murphy of University College Cork, who was engaged by the council to review the height of the flood defense wall, suggested it be reduced by 10cm-20cm.  It is also understood that sections of the concrete wall may be clad in granite.  It is hoped that the difficulties will be sorted out and the new section will be open in 2016.  This will provide a continuous traffic free cycleway from Sutton to East Wall and complete the northern section of the project which is a major step in completing the overall project.

The South Bay

It is approximately 9kms from Ringsend to Sandycove.  There is at present no seafront cycleway for approximately 4kms between Sean Moore Road and Seapoint.  The existing promenade at Sandymount, which is very popular with residents and visitors means that there is less new walkway to be provided.  The missing section has proved to be difficult, mainly because of the issues to do with the designation of the entire area of South Dublin Bay a habitat for seabirds.  At the heart of the difficulties is the discussion as to the relative importance of Dublin Bay as a habitat for seabirds as against the potential of providing a traffic-free cycleway and promenade from Sandycove to the City Centre on a miniscule part of the overall area. The project would provide significant benefits for the environment.  It would also allow the citizens and visitors to reconnect with the Bay in a manner that has not happened for 60 years.

At the end of 2014 the National Transport Authority with the support of Dublin City Council and Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council appointed consulting engineers AECOM + Roughan & O’Donovan (AECOM-ROD) along with Scott Cawley (Ecology Consultants) to undertake a new design and environment scoping study of the proposal.  It is understood that a draft report was completed and submitted to the NTA by the summer of 2015.  A presentation of the draft report was given to members of a joint committee of Councillors from DCC and DLRCC in October2015.  The report has not yet been published however and the reason is not clear.  It is to be hoped that will happen soon and that it will provide a way forward with this section of the route.

The City Centre

Dublin City Council plans to construct two new pedestrian/cycleway bridges to the east of the Samuel Beckett Bridge which will connect the North Side to the Grand Canal Docks area.  There is also the possibility of upgrading the East Link Bridge by adding a boardwalk to the upstream side of the deck. It has also been a long term objective of the Council to build a bridge across the Dodder /Grand Canal Gut, where it meets the Liffey.  A new bridge in this location would link Sir John Rogerson’s Quay with Ringsend and on to Sandymount for cycles and pedestrians.  It would also be used for public transport, but not private cars or trucks.  The Greater Dublin Area Cycle Network Plan published by the NTA has identified several potential routes in this section including through Ringsend Park and connections to the River Dodder Greenway and the Royal Canal Greenway with links through the East Wall area. There are therefore a number of possible routes to connect the North and South sections of the S2S and it is possible that DCC will provide more than one route through this section to facilitate better access for cyclists and walkers to the growing commercial centre of Dublin.

Other Developments

Aside from these developments, the proposal to develop an East Coast Greenway extending from Drogheda to Arklow (with the S2S at the heart of it), has gained widespread public support.  It is likely to be incorporated in most, if not all, of new Local Authority Development Plans which will be adopted in the next couple of years.  Plans by Fingal County Council to construct a section of this across the Malahide Estuary are already well advanced.  When completed, this will provide a significant boost to the overall vision.

In summary, progress has been painfully slow. The works to complete the northern section of the route are stalled.  While there is work going on behind the scenes to come up with practical proposals for the city centre and the south bay sections, no actual plans have been published.  The project needs all the community and political support that it can get and supporters are asked to let the politicians know their views on the importance of the project.

Michael Collins (michael@s2s.ie)