Monday 16 November 2009

Dublin ban on four-axle lorries not to go ahead

A ROAD safety and traffic management measure that would have meant hundreds of large lorries removed from Dublin city streets daily has been set aside because the city council has no budget for the plan.

Despite the success of a heavy goods vehicle (HGV) ban introduced following the opening of the Dublin Port Tunnel, the council said it does not intend to go ahead with its planned extension to four-axle vehicles at present. It said the extension would cost €3 million over the next five years.

The Road Safety Authority (RSA) last night said it was disappointed by the decision.

The HGV management strategy introduced in February 2007 banned lorries of five axles or more from the city streets between 7am and 7pm. The measure was to have been extended to four-axle lorries this year.

However, a report from the council’s traffic department, which will come before city councillors this week, recommends the measure “should not be extended to four-axle vehicles at present” and that annual monitoring of these vehicles should continue.

The report, which acclaims the great success of the ban on five-axle vehicles, said the extension to four-axel vehicles would cost too much. “The cost of removing these vehicles could be as high as €500,000 per year, and no provision has been made in 2010 budgets for this figure.”

The cost arises because the council pays the toll of lorries that, during the hours of the HGV ban, have to use the East Link bridge to move between the north and south ports because there is no alternative route available.

To date the council has paid €1.6 million in toll rebates to hauliers who have had to drive their five-axle lorries across the bridge.

The National Toll Road contract to operate the bridge ends in 2015. Until then the council will have to continue to pay the hauliers’ tolls, priced at €4.25 per trip, the report noted.

“If the strategy was extended to four-axle vehicles in 2010 then the city council would be liable for payments to four-axle vehicles of in excess of € 3 million until the end of the current toll scheme at the start of 2016.”

It added that there had been a significant reduction in the numbers of four-axle vehicles in the city since 2006, and so the extension of the ban would have only marginal impact.

The report said the HGV ban to date had been a major success and had resulted in “dramatic reductions” of up to 96 per cent in five-axle lorries in the city centre.

The ban had made the streets “safer for pedestrians, cyclists and other vulnerable road users”, improved the lives of people who live and work in the city centre, and made it possible to create new bus lanes.

RSA spokesman Brian Farrell said he could not comment in detail on the report as it had not yet been seen by the RSA, but lorries which did not need to be in the city centre should be removed.

“If there is a delay in extending the ban to four-axle HGVs we would be disappointed.”

He said the RSA hoped any postponement of the measure would be temporary.

“The less competition there is for road space between buses, bicycles and other vehicles the better in terms of safety.”

Irish Times

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