Saturday 12 January 2008

Red Cow misery set to continue as 'spaghetti junction' comes on stream

LIKE the traffic trying to get through it, progress on upgrading the country's most infamous roundabout remains painfully slow.

The spaghetti junction-style layout for the Red Cow, as shown in this picture, will come into operation tomorrow, but South Dublin County Council has described it as "an incremental change" rather than the end that frustrated motorists are hoping for.

And project manager John McLoughlin won't have helped motorists' moods when he claimed that speeding drivers - rather than the complicated layout -- were at fault if people got lost trying to negotiate their way around what is effectively a building site.

"We're now entering two-thirds of the way into a two-year programme," Mr McLoughlin said yesterday of the work to change the system from a traffic light junction to a free-flow junction. "The Red Cow will be complete by the end of August."

But the 100,000-plus motorists that currently crawl through the roundabout every day were advised not to set their expectations too high for the final re-configured layout.

"I think it would be a very brave man to predict that we're going to see an end to traffic jams at the Red Cow any time soon, even when the roadworks are finally complete, and that's not too far away, maybe six months," Conor Faughnan, public affairs manager with AA Ireland, said yesterday.

The first phase of the M50 project -- which includes the Red Cow, an upgraded Lucan interchange and a third lane between the two -- is on schedule to be completed by the end of August, according to the council.

Motorists travelling on both the N7 and the M50 towards the Red Cow have increasingly complained about the complicated layout and the lack of information signs in place to help them negotiate the massive building site in recent months.


There have even been a number of reports of people getting lost or ending up travelling in the wrong direction after struggling to get into the correct lane.

John McLoughlin, chief engineer on the project, yesterday apologised for the inconvenience but maintained that many motorists were themselves to blame as the 60kmh speed limit is not being observed.

"It's turning from a traffic light junction to a free-flow junction and if people don't watch the lanes that they are on they will end up going in the wrong direction," Mr McLoughlin maintained.

The latest layout will make little difference for drivers travelling from the N7 or the M50. Traffic from Monastery Road to the city, however, will now be able to use a free-flow bridge link, meaning it won't have to stop at lights at Monastery Lane.

But, being the Red Cow, even this is not without difficulties. "One minor complication is that the route to the M50 north, the new slip road is not yet open," Mr McLoughlin said.

"To come off Monastery Road and go north they will have to go down (the M50 south) as far as Ballymount. That is a detour that is longer than we'd like them to do but it means that we can move the traffic moving."

While work on upgrading the M50 between Ballymount and the N4 to three lanes in both directions is due to be finished in March, work on the Red Cow will continue into the summer as the Luas line is diverted to ensure trams will no longer stop traffic.

When it is completed, work will then move onto the next section of the M50 upgrade, between the N4 and the Dublin airport interchange. That will continue until 2010.

Jason O'Brien
Irish Independent

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