N7 Naas Road Widening & Interchange Scheme

Whole Project Award

Project Partners:

Clients: Kildare County Council, South Dublin County Council and National Roads Authority
Clients’ Engineer/Designer: Halcrow Barry
Contractor’s Designers: Roughan & O’Donovan – Faber Maunsell (now AECOM): Alliance
Contractors: Laing O’Rourke Infrastructure and Clonmel Enterprises

The N7 Naas Road Widening & Interchanges Scheme is the first construction project in the Republic of Ireland to gain a CEEQUAL award. The client, designer and contractor partnership used the CEEQUAL assessment scheme to demonstrate the high level of environmental performance achieved during the planning, design and construction phases of the project.

The Project

The Naas Road Widening & Interchanges Scheme consisted of an upgrade of a 14-kilometre length of the existing N7 between Rathcoole and Naas. The road has been widened from a two-lane Dual Carriageway with at-grade junctions to a three-lane Dual Carriageway with grade-separated interchanges. The scheme included the construction of four new grade-separated interchanges, two footbridges and other upgrading works.

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Ecology

The scheme aimed to protect and enhance local biodiversity. Ecological surveys were undertaken during the comprehensive Environmental Impact Assessments, and prior to construction starting. The site includes fish-spawning grounds, potential bat roots and badger foraging areas. To minimise any impacts from the project, a wide range of environmental mitigation measures were used, including badger fencing, bat boxes and the relocation of 350 brown trout using an electro-fishing technique, undertaken by the Fisheries Board.

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Archaeology

Archaeological investigation on this scheme commenced in August 2003, using a combination of geophysical testing, advanced central strip testing and specifically located test trenches in areas of identified archaeological potential. Nine archaeological sites were revealed with a small cluster of three possible Bronze Age sites in the form of cremations located within Bronze Age barrows (mounds of earth, encircled by a ditch). Archaeological consultants were employed to excavate and report on these finds in accordance with current guidelines, prior to works taking place.

Sustainable Resource Management

The project’s approach to sustainable resource management was to reduce the amount of virgin aggregate and to re-use existing materials on site wherever practical. This was achieved in part by using a rubbilisation technique to turn the existing old concrete slabs beneath the blacktop into a sub-base for the new rood. This process had a number of environmental benefits including reducing vehicle movements and avoiding the requirement for a concrete crusher and the associated noise and dust issues.

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Where virgin materials were used they were procured from a quarry located adjacent to the site, reducing transportation requirements and the associated impacts of vehicle movements. The quarry worked closely with the project team to ensure high-quality products.

Community Liaison

The project team had a significant interface with road users and the villages along the route. The commitment to keep two lanes of traffic open at all times was achieved, and regular updates of the road works were provided on the project website, through newsletters and on the local radio. The team worked closely with the local communities to minimise disruption; this included a safety talk at the local Kill Primary School to raise awareness of the dangers of construction sites.

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The CEEQUAL Scheme

Laing O’Rourke Infrastructure (part of the contractor team) has past experience of the benefits of the CEEQUAL process and has used CEEQUAL on a number of other projects, including the Twin River Diversion on T5 Heathrow and the A470 Road Improvement Scheme in Snowdonia National Park.

Conclusion

The Naas N7 scheme was not only completed ahead of time, but it has also attained the first CEEQUAL award in the Republic of Ireland, demonstrating ‘Very Good’ environmental performance. The CEEQUAL award shows a clear commitment to effective environmental management to all the project stakeholders, including the NRA and other fund holders. This has been achieved on the N7 Naas Scheme through the close partnership between the client, designers and contractors.

rimccarthy@laingorourke.com