The MetroLink plan for Dublin city centre “should concern us all”, environment journalist Frank McDonald has said.
The project describes itself as a “transformative” piece of infrastructure that will link Swords with the city centre and construction work is due to begin in 2025.
However, Mr McDonald believes there are “a lot of downsides” to the project, noting that it would mean the demolition of an apartment block on Townsend Street.
“There’s more than 70 homes that would be lost there, in addition to another 10 in a nearby social housing scheme - both built in the 1990s,” he told Newstalk Breakfast.
“That has been flagged already but I found it astonishing that the National Transport Authority and Transport Infrastructure Ireland - who are proposing this scheme of MetroLink - that they didn’t look at the adjoining site which has already been cleared for a huge office development that’s now under construction.
“Surely, it would have been possible to locate the MetroLink station there to link up with the Dart at Tara Street?”
The MetroLink will also stop at St Stephen’s Green and Mr McDonald believes the impact on the park is “something that I think should concern us all”.
“The east side of the Green is going to be the location within the park itself of the MetroLink station,” he said.
“That will require the displacement of the Wolfe Tone memorial right on the corner of the Green there.
“You’ve got to remember that Stephen’s Green is one of the most loved public parks in Dublin.
“I just don’t think that the media revealed that this is part of the consequences of pursuing this scheme.”
Finally, Mr McDonald, who previously worked as environment editor of the Irish Times, is worried that the project does not represent value for money.
“The cost as well is something astonishing,” he said.
“The baseline figure is basically €9.5 billion for a 19km line - most of which is going to run in a bored tunnel beneath the ground.
“The outlandish cost - due to ‘unknown unknowns’ as the planners put it - could reach €23 billion which is really just off the scale in terms of the cost of public projects in this country.”
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar previously described the €23 billion figure as an “extreme-case scenario” and said the project was worth pursuing.
“I think it's a great project, by the way, and it's long overdue,” he told The Pat Kenny Show.
"I think it can help to transform public transport in the streets of Dublin, and also help out with air quality and climate action as well.
"But it is going to be an expensive project and it is going to take time."
Main image: An artist's impression of the Tara Street MetroLink station. Picture by: metrolink.ie