Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Metro North is 'essential', says Dublin business body

DUBLIN CHAMBER of Commerce has dismissed fears that construction of Metro North will cause major disruption for city centre businesses, and welcomed the news that work could begin on the project in April.

It has also criticised the city’s current transport infrastructure as “inadequate”, and said investment in the metro was needed to attract new business to Dublin.

“The construction of Metro North is essential to tackling the transport deficit in order to attract new business and make Dublin a better city to live and work in,” said Gina Quin, Dublin chamber chief executive.

She said the chamber had spent the past two years working with the Railway Procurement Agency, Dublin City Council and other agencies to minimise disruption during the construction phase.

Ms Quin said an agreed traffic-management plan would ensure that access was maintained to all premises fronting on to the works for pedestrians and those whose mobility was impaired. All car parks would be maintained, and adequate footpath widths and crossings would be provided.

“Dublin’s traffic congestion has cost business billions and jobs coming to Ireland. The public transport story as it stands focuses on the problem of getting people from A to B. But it’s more than that. It’s also about protecting our environment and creating clusters of industries or businesses.

“Projects like Metro North and the Luas are vital, not just to move people around more efficiently but to stimulate economic growth as well,” said Ms Quin.

The agency said yesterday that work on the long-awaited Metro North line from St Stephen’s Green to Dublin airport and north Co Dublin would begin in April.

Following delays in the planning process, An Bord Pleanála last month wrote to the agency stating its intention to issue a decision on the railway order for the metro by the end of October.

However, several city businesses are now calling for the Government to cancel the project or postpone it until the economy recovers. Businessman Colm Carroll, who owns nine gift shops in the city centre, has recently launched No To Metro North, a campaign to stop the project which he said would “rip the whole city apart”, costing thousands of jobs and closing firms.

Drew Flood, general manager of Cliff Town House, formerly Bentleys on St Stephen’s Green, is also critical of the project. “It’s going to be like Baghdad. It would be like taking the Champs Elysées, taking Mayfair, and turning it into Baghdad. It will be the death knell of Stephen’s Green and the death knell of Grafton Street.”

Independent MEP Marian Harkin last night joined opponents of Metro North, describing it as “ unrealistic and unnecessary”.

“Cost-effective organisations like the Western Development Commission are threatened with closure while multimillion euro vanity projects such as Dublin’s Metro North are to proceed without any proof that they are needed and can stand up to financial scrutiny.

“Having regard to the fact that Dublin airport is now very well serviced with public and private transport operators from all over Ireland, and that the Port Tunnel is currently under-used, the major original justification for Metro North is gone.”

Irish Times

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