Thursday 30 August 2007

2+1 adds up to a different road

TRANSPORT planners in Co Meath have unveiled proposals for a rail link from Dublin to Navan, and a '2 + 1' road, instead of the controversial M3 motorway.

The plan would also see the creation of a Meath World Heritage Park in the Tara Skryne Valley and lead to savings of €300m for the taxpayer, as well as safeguarding archeological remains in the area.

Brian Guckian and Tadhg Crowley said yesterday their plans would solve the transport issues for commuters "in the long term" and protect the heritage of the area, without having to reroute the M3.

They also believe that up to €300m could be saved, which could be used to buy-out the contract to toll the road, saving commuters hundreds of euro every year.

The most radical element of the proposal is for a 2+1 road to be built , instead of a motorway, near the Hill of Tara.

These are roads, pioneered in Sweden, where motorists have two lanes of traffic going in one direction, and one lane in the opposite direction, alternating every two kilometres.

This means that drivers are afforded the opportunity to overtake in safely every 2km.

The introduction of the 2+1 roads in Sweden significantly decreased road deaths and, although the National Roads Authority has built a number of these roads here, it recently announced it was abandoning them in favour of dual carriageways as these could be built at a slightly increased cost.

The Meath Master (Model archeological and Sustainable Economic Region) Plan calls for the M3 to be built as a motorway to Roestown, north of Dunshaughlin, which would change to a 2+1 on the existing N3, and bypass Navan and on to Kells.

No re-routing of the M3 would be required, and traffic volumes would be cut by at least one-third, while a rail link would be re-opened to Navan and Kells.

Heavy goods vehicles would be banned from the area and there would be subsidised rail use for commuters.

Each train could lead to 500 cars a day being removed from the busy road network, and the cost of building the 2+1 road and rail network to Navan and Kells would be €1.2bn.

The Heritage Park would reconstruct archeological sites and include heritage trails and interpretative centres, and there would be five main settlements of Navan, Kells, Trim, Dunshaughlin and Slane.

Heritage stations would be built using model green building practices, and connect networks of heritage trails and provide interpretation centres, bike rental facilities, accommodation and restaurants.

Only small eco-friendly developments would be allowed in the area.The promoters of the plan said yesterday it would be a model of sustainable economic development, which would help develop heritage and tourist activity. They hope to gain support from all political parties.

Irish Independent

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