MOTORISTS have been warned to plan ahead to avoid traffic chaos when private cars are banned from one of Dublin's busiest streets during rush hour.
Traffic chiefs believe re-routing drivers away from College Green from next Monday will open up the city for more business.
Some 60 million public transport passengers pass through the bottleneck each year, skirting Trinity College and linking Dame Street and Westmoreland Street.
Up to 7,000 drivers a day will have to find an alternative route as only buses, taxis and bicycles will be allowed through College Green between 7am and 10am and 4pm and 7pm, Monday to Friday.
The change will see bus journeys reduced by up to 30 minutes, and the city council says the ban will cut traffic congestion, delays and safety issues for pedestrians, which are a "recognised problem" there.
"It is an unsustainable and unsatisfactory position for all its users, be they bus passengers, taxis, cars, pedestrians and cyclists," Tim Brick from the city council said yesterday.
"The benefits of the measure will be reliable, quicker journey times for public transport users, safer pedestrian movements and better access for commuters, shoppers and essential business traffic.
"The key message here is that Dublin city will remain open and accessible to the greatest number of people. The College Green scheme is a measure that had to happen."
More than 4,300 Dublin Bus vehicles pass through the bottleneck every year, carrying 10 times the number of people travelling by private car. Dublin City Council says that 12,883 cars use the College Green route each day, with almost 7,000 of these travelling at peak times.
Temporary electronic signage will be in place to direct drivers around the capital and satellite navigation systems will be updated. Access to car parks will be maintained, but routes to some will be altered.
Dublin traffic corps Superintendent Frank Clerkin said motorists had a week to pick alternative routes, which are available at www.transportfordublin.ie. Breaking the ban will incur an on-the-spot fine of €60, which, if left unpaid, rises to €90.
"For the first number of days the gardai will use a certain amount of discretion, but that's not to say they won't be enforcing the bus lane regulations," Supt Clerkin warned.