Thursday 23 November 2017

'We are sleepwalking into a prolonged roads crisis', businesses warn

Traffic on the M50
Traffic on the M50
Graeme McQueen

Business groups have hit out at the increasing congestion on the M50 and called on the Government to triple its spend on transport.

Transport Infrastructure Ireland said this week the motorway has reached "the point of breakdown".

Almost 159,000 vehicles are using Dublin's M50 on a daily basis - up 6,300 on the same period last year. The figure is almost twice that of the level of traffic on the road in 2008, when approximately 89,000 vehicles per day travelled over the West-Link Bridge.

Dublin Chamber of Commerce (DCC) has called for the €150m currently being spent on infrastructure each year in the greater Dublin area to be increased to €500m.


"Businesses in Dublin are taking a significant hit from traffic congestion. Companies are coping to date by changing the way in which they operate, in order to combat the effects of congestion," DCC's Public Affairs Manager Graeme McQueen said.

"Some have had to become much more flexible with employees in terms of starting times and working from home. We also know of business owners who have relocated their premises from the city centre to outside the M50 to help reduce commute times for staff."

Ireland needs to bring its spending in line with UK cities that are vying for the same foreign investment, particularly in the wake of Brexit, he added.

"Without proper action, there is a real danger that we are about to sleepwalk into a prolonged infrastructure crisis," Mr McQueen said.

"The growing congestion problems we're seeing in Dublin today are the result of significant under-investment in transport infrastructure over the past decade. This under-investment means our transport system is considerably behind where it needs to be for a fast-growing city."


Meanwhile, Neil McDonnell, chief executive of the Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association, said there is no "joined-up thinking" when it comes to tackling the problem of traffic chaos on the M50.

A second ring road or the Eastern Bypass, a controversial route that would make the M50 fully circular, need to be examined, he said.

Both options would ease congestion on the M50 by removing traffic that is travelling north-south and does not need to use the existing road. Only some elements of the bypass are included in the National Transport Authority's 20- year plan.

Similarly, a Leinster Orbital Route - a road proposal extending from Drogheda to the Naas/Newbridge area with intermediate links to Navan and other towns - is not included in the strategy.

"A significant proportion of this volume [of traffic] is actually bound for the N/M11 and would more sensibly be routed southwards from Dublin Port, if there was an eastern bypass," Mr McDonnell said.

"The congestion we see on the M50 is just a symptom of not having an integrated traffic and freight management plan for the greater Dublin area."


"Pending strategic decisions such as light rail for west Dublin, an Eastern Bypass and/or a Western Outer Orbital, the Government should focus on incentivising freight to use the M50 at less crowded times - perhaps by altering inbound-outbound freight movements on ferries. We see no evidence of this sort of joined-up thinking as yet," he added.

The Irish Road Haulage Association said the M50 problems are adding hidden costs for its members, who are faced with additional labour costs due to the congestion.

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