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Saturday 10 December 2016

M50 reaching 'point of breakdown' as vehicle levels hit 159,000 a day

Motorists on the M50 often experience delays due to the dramatic rise in motorway traffic over the past three years
Motorists on the M50 often experience delays due to the dramatic rise in motorway traffic over the past three years

At least 25,000 extra motorists are using the M50 each day compared to three years ago.

Journey times on Dublin's orbital route are becoming longer due to the increasing volume of traffic.

Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) say the amount of motorists using the M50 is so large - almost 159,000 every day - the issue has "reached a point of breakdown".

Last week, four incidents caused traffic chaos in the morning peak hours. In recent years, Dublin motorists have constantly complained that the level of traffic on the M50 was greatly increasing. New data from Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) bears truth to this theory.

Increase

The data shows that every month, there are 120 'incidents' including breakdowns.

An analysis of traffic data supplied by TII is based the analysis on volumes on the first Wednesday of October in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016, and shows that numbers are steadily growing year on year.

On the first Wednesday of October in 2013, just over 133,345 vehicles used the road. The figure has increased by 19pc for the same day of 2016 to 158,695.

"The levels of service are diminishing," a TII spokesman said. "That means as you go further and further down the road, you're going to see the level of service continue to diminish and people will have to spend longer on the M50 to make the same journey.

"It has reached a point of breakdown. The consequence is journey times become less reliable, and very long. To overcome that unreliability, people start leaving earlier so they don't get caught by the unreliability."

Volumes were captured using traffic counters installed between the N4 at Lucan, and the Red Cow.

While the road was serving its "strategic function" issues arose at certain times of day.

The M50 was upgraded in 2010 at a cost of €1bn, and cannot be further expanded as there is no land available along the route which would allow additional lanes to be installed.

Traffic

A 2014 study on M50 traffic volumes revealed that 'safe operational capacity' was being exceeded at peak times on some sections of the road including the M1 connection with the north, the N4 to Lucan and the west and M7 to Cork and Kildare.

This means that in these sections of the road, the chances of a collision or incident occurring are higher.

TII has taken steps to improve traffic flows, including stationing response teams close to the Red Cow and it takes an average of 11 minutes for a team to arrive at the scene of an incident.

Last week's collisions caused delays of up to an hour, which was in part due to the number of vehicles on the road.

"These are medium-sized events which lead to delays of up to an hour," the TII spokesman said.

"That is due to capacity issues. It is compounding the issue. When capacity is maxed out, a medium sized incident creates a major delay."

TII will be introducing variable speed limits from 2019, where motorists will be warned of a serious incident through variable message signs and told to reduce their speed and merge into a different lane to allow emergency teams respond.

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