The Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Leo Varadkar has said that he will set out a clear plan for transport projects during the lifetime of the Government, including ‘shovel ready’ projects which will create jobs in the immediate future.
Minister Varadkar made his remarks at the CMG Construction Capital Spend Conference in Dun Laoghaire and is also attending a test run of the new Luas Citywest extension.
Economic benefit of public transport
The Minister stated that “I see the need to continue to invest in transport projects, public transport in particular, to create construction jobs in the short term, but more importantly in the long-term. This will improve our competitiveness and create jobs across the economy as a result.
“It is estimated that 15,000 jobs are created for every €1 billion invested in capital projects, and that the economic return for every €1 invested can be as much as €2 or even €2.50.
Repair of roads
“I have already directed that funds not used by the NRA on new projects this year should be identified and diverted to repairing badly damaged secondary national, regional and local roads. These measures will result in hundreds of contracts, mainly for small, local firms this year. And they will boost confidence locally.
Review of capital spending
“As part of the Government’s Comprehensive Spending Review, there will be a comprehensive review of capital spending with a view to developing a new National Development Plan for 2012-18 as promised in the Programme for Government. That work will begin in the coming weeks. When it is agreed by Cabinet, it will give certainty to the industry and agencies about which projects are going ahead in the next six years and which are not.
Metro and luas projects
“I get the impression that the last government was unwilling to make decisions in the dying days of its administration. Planning, public consultation and preliminary works on major transport projects such as Metro North, Metro West, Luas BXD, Luas F, DART Underground and major road projects have continued, but funding has not been identified and timelines for construction are uncertain.
“I am ambitious about infrastructure. And I would like to see all these projects go ahead. Metro North and DART Underground perform well in cost-benefit analyses and they are exactly the kind of projects that I want to see in our capital city, my home town and the city that I love. The same applies to major road projects across the country like the Atlantic Corridor and the by-passes proposed for our towns.
“But we cannot go on planning for projects without being able to fund them. We need to articulate a realistic, affordable and funded capital programme for Transport and we need to get on with it. And that is what we intend to do.
“Certainly, I would like to see at least one major rail or light-rail project commence soon, perhaps on an incremental basis, whether it’s Metro North, Luas BXD or Dart Underground. I am keen to study what options exist in relation to Bus Rapid Transit for suburban parts of Dublin. I want to be clear that no decisions have been taken to date, either by me or the Cabinet, and all options will be considered.”