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Ways to improve infrastructure development

  • 03-12-2018 10:18pm
    Registered Users Posts: 920 ✭✭✭

    So it is quite clear that Ireland has a significant infrastructure development deficit and there is a requirement for substantial investment in the next few years to avoid the country grinding to a halt. Therefore, I was thinking of ways to improve the infrastructure delivery process and came up with the following:

    1. Central Utilities Database
    As part of infrastructure construction it is necessary to identify and in some case divert utilities in the areas affected. Currently, this is a challenging task as each utility company holds their own records. Additionally, there is no set standard for as-builts resulting in a significant variation in quality between providers. Because each provider holds their own records, it is necessary to contact each provider individually and arrange meetings to obtain records. These records must then be processed to bring them all to the same standard in terms of layering, projection etc. This process can take significant amounts of time and man hours.
    The lack of a central system also creates uncertainly when it comes to areas which are congested with utilities as some may be on top of each other etc. While a Geophysicial survey is required due to the lack of guarantee over accuracy, where utilities overlap, slit trenches are required to identify services. This increases construction cost and the level of disruption. On top of this; data for one project cannot be reused on future projects as there is no identification of the services which have been installed between projects.
    The creation of a central utility database would not only reduce the cost of projects by providing records on day 1, it would also speed up project delivery as typically the alignment takes into account the location of services and can vary both horizontally and vertically depending on where these services are located. If utility records are known from day 1, it makes it easier to develop the alignment and design diverts.
    To ensure this database is up to date, it would be necessary to make it a legal requirement to provide as-built records for developments to the required standards.
    While the creation of a single utility database would have an initial cost, it would undoubtedly save money in the long run.

    2. Less Political Interference
    Yes everyone is entitled to their opinion and public consultation is a very important part of infrastructure projects but removing or even reducing the level of political interference would reduce the time required to complete a project and also the associated bad publicity.
    During public consultation periods, there should be a moratorium on said project being mentioned in the Dáil with TD’s and in turn their constituents being advised to make their submissions through the relevant channels (that’s what public consultation is for).
    The briefing of public representatives should be allowed for in the project schedule but should only take place at designated times to allow the team work on the project.
    Interference by public reps leads predominately to negative press or alterations to the scope of the project. If this can be reduced, it would have more knock-on benefits.

    3. Jargon Buster/ Clarity over Project Delivery Process
    It is quite clear that there is a lack of understanding over the stages of the project delivery process from both the media and the general public alike. The development of a Jargon Buster explaining key phrases such as “emerged preferred route” and “non-statutory consultation” as well as developing an overall project timeframe to explain the steps required to bring a project from start to finish. This would include breaking down the construction stage to explain to people that while it may not look like much is going on, there is significant work going on behind the scenes. Pointing out simple facts (such as 24 days required for curing concrete) would help people understand why work “appears” to be so slow

    4. Less Negativity
    This ties in with points 2 + 3 but needs to be emphasised. Yes, building infrastructure costs money, yes there will be disruptions, yes there will be noise etc. etc. but in the end it is for the better. There’s a reason a project is being built and it’s not to disrupt people but to make their life’s better by reducing traffic or managing it better. More emphasis needs to be put on this rather than “consultant paid €x” or “road to be closed for x amount of time”

    5. Post Project Reviews/ Contractor Rating System
    The development of a post project review process would play a crucial role in terms of a lessons learned perspective as well as reducing construction costs. At the end of the day, contractors are entitled to make a fair profit, however if it felt that they are abusing the system by tendering too low and then submitting claims; they should be called out on it. Likewise, if a contractor does a good job, they should be recognised. By developing a contractor rating system which is totally transparent, it would be possible to develop a clearer understanding of the true costs of projects and long term potentially reduce them.


  • Registered Users Posts: 6,535 ✭✭✭prunudo

    With regard to point 2, I would also add that there should be clear rules regarding conflict of interest. So if a politician or so called expert decides to write an opinion piece in the media there should be clear reference to any connections they may have to any affected properties or interests along the route.

  • Registered Users Posts: 232 ✭✭Heartbreak Hank

    Last Stop wrote: »
    1. Central Utilities Database

    Excellent idea. There is a standard in Canada, CSA S250, which details the way in which utilities are surveyed and the data presented. Something like this could be adopted here. I'm sure there is a eurocode or BS along these lines.

    I would add that there should be a central ground investigation database: as part of any public project, the ground investigation data, reports and drawings should be provided to a central authority. It is a bit more cumbersome than the utility information as it is not just a drawing but still would be speed up the start of a project.

  • Closed Accounts Posts: 876 ✭✭✭Lord Glentoran

    The simplest of all methods.

    Come up with a plan and stick to the damn thing.

  • Registered Users Posts: 8,940 ✭✭✭cgcsb

    I think definitely TDs and councillors should be barred from organising meetings parallel to the official consultation meetings just so they can spew misingformation.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,911 ✭✭✭hans aus dtschl

    We have local area development plans in the Cork area. Developers kind of pretend to adhere to them in their planning applications and the councils kind of allow stuff even though it doesn't conform to the plan.... here's my idea: have the team who create the plan funded for an additional number of years so that they're tasked with and fully-funded to up-rev the plan continuously to reflect exactly what has been approved at any point in time.
    So that, for example, the Cork Area Transportation Study, which is (over)due to be published this month is updated to reflect the latest changes to the road layouts and housing estate approvals. Essentially that all plans should be fully up-to-date.

    Or another idea: centralised documentation and public look-up of everyone who's had approval to dig up roads, so that newly-laid roads which are cut to pieces and badly (piecemeal) repaired will have some responsibility associated with their correct repair. Another version of this would be that digging up roads requires full repair of the entire width of that side of the road for a few metres beyond the cavity (not just repairing the cavity excavated). There's plenty of roads near me that have cuts into the surface resembling something like tramlines, with construction crews having long since departed.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 14,376 ✭✭✭✭loyatemu

    cgcsb wrote: »
    I think definitely TDs and councillors should be barred from organising meetings parallel to the official consultation meetings just so they can spew misingformation.

    this is a democracy - politicians can organise meetings on whatever they like.

    I don't like the way certain people are using Metro, BusConnects etc as a political football to gain local votes, but what you're suggesting is not a runner (and probably unconstitutional)

  • Moderators, Computer Games Moderators, Recreation & Hobbies Moderators Posts: 9,911 Mod ✭✭✭✭CatInABox

    Easiest and most effective would be to fund and staff all elements of the planning chain. I.e. TII & NTA > ABP > The courts system. Most of these delays are caused by each of these entities being asked to do too much with too little.

  • Closed Accounts Posts: 1,487 ✭✭✭Mutant z

    Get planners and developers who are can actually plan and develop most of the current mob couldn't organise a piss up in a brewery let alone come up with any decent ideas of note to get anything done.

  • Registered Users Posts: 920 ✭✭✭Last Stop

    Mutant z wrote: »
    Get planners and developers who are can actually plan and develop most of the current mob couldn't organise a piss up in a brewery let alone come up with any decent ideas of note to get anything done.

    Ehhhhh see point 4