RESTRICTIONS ON private cars in Dublin city centre, to be introduced for rail works, may become permanent, John Henry, chairman of the Dublin Transportation Office (DTO), suggested yesterday.
"It is necessary to have restrictions while construction is going on but I would like to see a more permanent solution, to make the city centre a much friendlier place to do business," Mr Henry said.
A congestion charge, such as the one introduced in London city centre, will be one of the solutions for traffic control that will be considered in the future, Mr Henry said.
The traffic management plan will not be introduced until 2010, before works on Metro North, Luas extensions and the underground interconnector begin, Minister for Transport Noel Dempsey said yesterday at the launch of a public consultation on a new transport strategy for Dublin from 2010 until 2030.
This is despite an earlier target of April 2009 recently proposed by Frank Fahey, chairman of the Oireachtas Committee on Transport.
"We need to have a plan in place well in advance of construction starting rather than just reacting to construction," Mr Henry said, adding that he would prefer to see the restrictions in place up to a year in advance of the works in order to get the city streets under control.
Proposals would restrict private cars in O'Connell Street, Westmoreland Street, College Green and Dame Street and would see cross-city traffic diverted onto a proposed new bridge between Marlborough Street and Hawkins Street.
"It won't be an entirely car-free city centre as people still have to do business but traffic that has no need to be there should find an alternative route," he said.
"We are not talking about banning traffic in the city centre but rerouting it," Mr Henry said, adding that he is confident it can be achieved with a bit of courage.
While disruption in the city centre is inevitable during the construction, Mr Dempsey said the way disruption is managed is important, such as planning works to take place in different places at different times.
"Trying to provide a world-class public transport system does entail some inconvenience and disruption," he said.
He also wants to ensure Dublin city centre will be clearly promoted as being open for business during the expected disruption.
He was launching the first part of the consultation, seeking the public's vision for transport in the greater Dublin area until 2030.
A draft vision and objectives for Dublin have already been developed following consultation with local politicians, community groups and businesses.
This draft vision defines Dublin as "a competitive, vibrant, city-region of inclusive and engaged communities, proud of its heritage and its national and European roles, and looking to the future, where an improved quality of life for all is guided by the principle of sustainability."
Draft objectives include: strengthening communities, improving its economic competitiveness, improving accessibility, improving governance and attractiveness of the public realm, respecting the environment and reducing stress in the lives of citizens.
Members of the public interested in giving their views on the future shape of transport in the greater Dublin area have until June 30th to answer an online questionnaire at www.2030vision.ie; e-mail their views to email@example.com or send their opinions by post to: 2030 Vision, Block 2, West Pier Business Campus, Dún Laoghaire, Co Dublin.