Thursday, 2 April 2009

Metro hearing told of further traffic restrictions

Further restrictions on private cars in Dublin city during the building of Metro North were outlined at the opening of the Bord Pleanála into the multi-billion euro project in Dublin this morning.

Addressing the inquiry on the subject of traffic management during the five-year construction period, James Connolly SC for the Railway Procurement Agency (RPA) said cars would be prevented from turning right onto O’Connell Bridge from Bachelors Walk. He also said cars would be prevented from turning right from O’Connell Bridge onto Eden Quay.

These restrictions are to be in addition to the plans for a "bus gate" at College Green which would prevent private vehicles moving from Dame Street to the O’Connell Street area.

Two lanes of traffic in each direction would be maintained in O’Connell Street while a new public transport bridge would be provided east of O’Connell Bridge, linking Hawkins Street and Marlborough Street.

The inquiry heard the traffic management plan would result in a decrease in average morning peak journey times through the city centre by about 8.3 per cent, but would actually improve the average bus speeds by one per cent.

The inquiry before senior Bord Pleanala inspector Kevin Moore also heard construction of the 18 kilometre route would create 4,000 direct jobs and a further 2,000 indirectly. The line from St Stephens Green via Dublin Airport to Belinstown north of Swords would have 17 stops, nine of which will be underground.

The planned metro also received a boost from Minister for Transport Noel Dempsey yesterday when expressed strong support for the project at a business seminar organised by Fingal County Council.

Mr Dempsey said accused economic commentators of making “ill-informed” and “ignorant” statements, he said he would be recommending to cabinet colleagues that the project be approved, despite the downturn.

“There has been a lot of ill-informed comment. I’m not sure where all the negativity comes from. We are in difficult times, there’s no doubt about that, and tough decisions have to be made. While we deal with those current realities we have to realise there will be a future, we have to develop a sustainable framework for transport.

“We can’t continue to have ever-expanding urban sprawl, that will only result in longer commutes. The patterns of settlement and trip making have continued to rely on the private car” he said.

The Minister also revealed average journey times are in the order of 81 minutes from Swords to the city centre. City centre to Ballymun would be 61 minutes. “It’s unsustainable socially, economically and from an environmental and health point of view,” he said.

“The case for Metro North doesn’t depend on future growth. It’s in large part a response to growth which has already taken place.”

Irish Times

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