Dublin Port Tunnel


The Dublin Port Tunnel is a major element in the Dublin Transport Initiative (DTI), a multifaceted plan to tackle the transportation problems in Dublin City. Its primary purpose is to provide a high quality access route to Dublin Port, as well as relieving congestion in many areas of the city. The tunnel runs from the M1 motorway at Santry to Dublin Port at East Wall. This new route allows trucks to use Dublin's M50 C-Ring and access the Port via the tunnel.

Forming a substantial part of Dublin's traffic congestion problem are the heavy goods vehicles (HGVs). The Dublin Port Tunnel is designed primarily to facilitate heavy goods vehicles travelling to and from Dublin Port. Dublin City is virtually unique in Europe in having the country's premier port located at the heart of the city, and all trucks travelling to and from Dublin Port had to travel through the city, along streets that were never designed to accommodate them. Traffic congestion along the city quays of the River Liffey and through the inner suburbs was extremely heavy. Their removal from these areas will enhance the city's commercial and residential environment.

Dublin Port currently handles two thirds of Ireland's seaport trade by value and is a major source of HGV traffic - each year almost 2 million trucks travel in and out of the Port, with this figure projected to grow even higher over the coming years. The Port is also a major source of employment with over 3,500 jobs located there. It represents a major economic force in the region.

But this problem does not just concern Dublin Port alone. Congestion in the City means that HGVs generally move at slow speeds, continually accelerating and decelerating, reducing general amenity and increasing costs for industry. The general environment deteriorates with poorer air quality and increased noise levels, and pedestrians face great difficulties due to the high levels of HGVs on the streets and at junctions.

Dublin Port tunnel opened to traffic on December 20th, 2006. It is a twin bore tunnel of 4.5km in length with a height clearance of 4.65m. It is part of the M50 motorway and completes the northern part of the C-Ring around Dublin city. It is a dedicated route for Heavy Goods Vehicles between the Port, located in the heart of the city and the greater road network via the Coolock Lane Interchange (M50). The work on site started in June 2001.The overall project budget is €752 million. This is the total of the construction tender, €448 million, and €304 million for project costs including construction supervision, land acquisition etc.


The Dublin Port Tunnel had its origin in 1991 when Dublin Corporation commissioned consultants to examine options for a Port Access and Eastern Relief Route. However, the subsequent Government decision of November 1992 not to proceed with the Eastern Relief Route element of the proposal, i.e. the section between the North Port and Booterstown, meant that the study was effectively restricted to a feasibility study for an access route to the Port. This feasibility study was completed early in 1993 and recommended a route from Whitehall to the North Port.

In October 1994, the Government decided that the Dublin Port Tunnel should proceed as a priority, subject to:

  • the route being constructed as a dual carriageway (mostly in tunnel);
  • the route being classified as a proposed national road, thereby placing its construction under the overall responsibility of the National Roads Authority;
  • the implementation of the project being accompanied by traffic management measures (including tolling and a truck management system).


  • The removal of HGV through-traffic from the city centre and residential areas;
  • The improvement of the environment of the city centre;
  • The improvement of pedestrian facilities in the city centre;
  • The continued development of Dublin Port;
  • 6 minute link from the M50 to the Port;
  • Shorter reliable delivery times for business and industry;
  • Support the growth of external trade;
  • Facilitate public transport improvements;
  • The introduction of traffic-calming in residential areas.

Motorway Scheme

The Dublin Port Tunnel comprises approximately 5.6 km of dual carriageway, which includes 2.1 km of twin cut & cover tunnels and 2.4 km of twin bored tunnels, with associated interchanges and infrastructureThe scheme follows a broad north-south path in its route from Santry to Dublin Port.

The route commences on the M1 Dublin-Belfast Motorway at Coolock Lane Interchange. The route was constructed in cut & cover tunnel from the portals at Santry, under the M1 and Swords Road, down to Collins Avenue. (A cut & cover tunnel is created by excavating a trench from the surface down, constructing the tunnel inside the trench, and filling in the trench afterwards.) From this point the route continues southwards towards Fairview in bored tunnel. (A bored tunnel is constructed completely underground, with openings only at the ends of the tunnel.) The depth of the bored tunnel section, from existing ground level to the roof of the tunnel, is approximately 19.0m to 24.0m under residential houses.

Passing beneath Griffith Avenue the route swings eastwards, travelling beneath the mainly residential area of Marino, and part of Fairview. At Fairview Park the bored tunnel construction ends and a cut & cover tunnel was constructed through the park. The route passes beneath the Dublin-Belfast and DART railway lines and Alfie Byrne Road to the southern portals located to the east of Alfie Byrne Road. Crossing the Tolka River at ground level on a bridge, the route ends at a North Port Interchange, set in open ground to the north of East Wall Road and west of Bond Road. A Toll Plaza is situated at the North Port.

Motorway Scheme Details

  • Two tunnel tubes, each approximately 11 metres in diameter;
  • One tube carries northbound traffic - the other tube carries southbound traffic. Each tube has two traffic lanes;
  • Approximately half of the tunnel length was constructed by underground boring. The other half was constructed from the surface down using "cut and cover" methods;
  • Overall scheme length is 5.6 km of which the tunnel section will be 4.5 km
  • 3½ year construction period
  • Contractor : Nishimatsu Mowlem Irishenco;
  • Construction of the two main tunnel bores will be by means of two Tunnel Boring Machines;
  • Traffic flow in the tunnel is projected to be 20,000 vehicles per day rising to 31,000 in 2018;
  • Travel time from the M50 (at the M1) to Dublin Port is approximately 6 to 7 minutes;
  • There are 315 private residential properties, and 13 institutional properties situated above the tunnel;
  • The geology along the bored tunnel section mainly comprises a stiff boulder clay along sections underneath open lands, and strong limestone rock along the residential housing section;
  • On average the tunnel crown is located approximately 20m below ground level under residential properties.
Posted by Reflecting City Team on Wednesday, September 17, 2008
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