I realise the title might be lost on those who haven’t seen the Great Escape but it is apt.
Ok, I know I’m not the first to comment on the strange decision to build a tunnel under the Shannon rather than a bridge over it. I’m not going to go into the ins and outs - pardon the pun - of this decision but I do have a question so this is going to be a rather short post. Well, at least I hope it is but, you know me, I tend to go off on one from time to time.
Right, so let’s go through the pros and cons of a tunnel rather than a bridge.
Cost: A bridge is a lot cheaper to build than a tunnel, so there’s no sense to the decision there, especially given the short distance that they needed to traverse. A tunnel cost significantly more than a bridge so I’m going to have to rule that, based on cost, this decision was idiotic.
Aesthetics: A bridge can become a gleaming and powerful monument with which to welcome people to our city. In the right hands, we could have had beautiful bridge built that would be the envy of everyone outside of Limerick. A tunnel can only be seen when you’re in it and they are dark and exhaust filled things. When you enter a traffic tunnel, your only burning intention is to get out the other side as quickly as possible. Right, so on an aesthetic level, the decision is also idiotic.
Functionality: Ok, a tunnel can’t generally deal with the amount of traffic that a bridge can so, again, the tunnel is off to a bad start. Ok, let’s face it; on a level of functionality, the tunnel is a ridiculously moronic decision.
Safety: Bridges are perfectly safe. Tunnels are notoriously unsafe. If you are in a tunnel and a fire breaks out, you’re most probably fucked as it is one of the most dangerous things you can experience. Of course, it’s not quite so bad if there’s a separate access tunnel for fire and emergency services. As there is no such emergency access tunnel on the Limerick one, you’re fucked if fire breaks out. The cost of building an emergency access tunnel was deemed prohibitive - a bridge must have been looking like a better option at that stage. So, from a safety perspective, this decision was not only stupid, it was fucking crazy.
Am I saying that the people who decided to build this tunnel are stupid? No I’m not but my question does lie in my belief that they are far from stupid.
I’ve done a little digging - again, pardon the pun - on this and, whilst I cannot name names, I will give a brief outline of some changes in personnel that have given me cause to wonder about this thing.
So, the engineer who was in charge of this and put it into motion is no longer employed in the position that led him to make this decision. He was, in fact, offered early retirement, an offer which he eagerly accepted. This meant that he was offered a generous lump sum and a fat fucking pension to vacate his job. So, has he now got his feet up in the Algarve? No, he now works for Direct Route, which is the company that was commissioned to build the tunnel.
So, basically, this was a very intelligent decision by a man with no ethics who wanted to become wealthy. Yep, it’s typical of this country.
Before I ask my question, I will ask that any of you who want to correct me in any of my assertions above, please do. I have omitted details of positions, committees and specific personnel deliberately so that people can fill in the blanks themselves. If anyone wants to name names in the comment section, I do not have moderation turned on here so I can’t really stop you.
So, my question is this, and please feel free to have a think about this as you walk down the tunnel on its opening day today. With all of our so-called concerned, learned and active local politicians constantly reminding us of how concerned, learned and active they are; how in the name of fuck was a disastrous decision like this allowed to be made and why isn’t there a calling to account over a definite conflict of interest and a decidedly unethical appointment. This needless tunnel has cost us €660m - after an initial estimate of €500m, so I would start fucking asking that question.