PLANS FOR a dual-carriageway to bypass the village of Slane, Co Meath, have been described as “idiotic” by Dr Edgar Morgenroth, associate professor at the Economic and Social Research Institute.
Dr Morgenroth, who is the institute’s programme co-ordinator for research on transport and infrastructure, said he would be making a formal complaint to the Comptroller and Auditor General if An Bord Pleanála approved the current proposal.
He also said plans by the National Roads Authority for a 27- kilometre dual-carriageway between Clontibret, Co Monaghan, and the Border at Aughnacloy, Co Tyrone, amounted to “total overkill, especially since Monaghan has already been bypassed”.
In a blog posted yesterday on the irisheconomy.ie website, Dr Morgenroth said a wide, two-lane road bypassing the village of Emyvale, Co Monaghan, as had been done already in the case of Carrickmacross, would be “perfectly sufficient”.
“I am not against motorways but I am against the sort of gold-plating that has been going on – building a motorway where something more appropriate would have served the purpose,” he said.
Dr Morgenroth added that he was “sceptical” about the cost-benefit analysis being used by the the authority.
Referring to claims in such analyses that reductions in road fatalities were entirely due to road improvements, Dr Morgenroth said this was not correct.
“There are many factors including road improvements, the points system, road safety campaigns, safer cars, etc.
“We keep making the same mistake of comparing a project with a ‘do nothing’ benchmark. It is hardly surprising that ‘do something’ is better than ‘do nothing’.
“We need to include the ‘do something else’ scenarios into the analysis including the ‘no investment but appropriate pricing’ scenario.”
Dr Morgenroth cited Dublin City Council’s “grand plan” to pipe water to the city from the river Shannon, at the cost of €540 million, as an example.
He said that the introduction of metered water charges for all households “would make that project redundant”.
“While the project website refers to a number of alternatives, all of them involve construction, including the hair-brained idea to build a desalination plant”, he said, adding that this was probably due to a fascination for, or “addiction”, to construction in Ireland.
Dealing with the proposed Slane bypass, he said it was “totally irrelevant” for access from Co Donegal to Dublin.
“You only have to use the excellent and uncongested N33 [Ardee link road] to get on to the excellent and uncongested M1 to get to Dublin.
“Facilitating toll dodgers by building a dual-carriageway parallel to the M1 is about the most stupid thing that the Government could do – worse still if those toll dodgers are ‘free-riding’ on the improved roads in the first place”, Dr Morgenroth added.