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a brexit jam

Trucks can be parked at Dublin Airport longterm carpark if Brexit traffic at Dublin Port overflows

No matter what happens in the ongoing Brexit talks, there’ll be major changes in how Ireland does business with the UK in 2021.

LAST UPDATE | 7 Dec 2020

Figure 1 Queue Management on M50 Northbound approach to M1/M50 Junction Dept of Transport Dept of Transport

IRISH TRANSPORT AUTHORITIES have announced plans to deal with Brexit-related traffic at Dublin Port, including turning a Dublin Airport car park into a temporary facility for trucks in order to ease worst-case scenario congestion. 

A ‘traffic-light’ system will be in place at the Port to monitor the flow of truck traffic at the port from 1 January, when post-Brexit rules and checks come into force.

Though the UK officially left the EU in January this year, the transition period has meant that the UK remained in the Customs Union and Single Market. From 1 January, it will no longer be adhering to EU rules, and so new checks are needed at ports and airports.

In the event that congestion from Dublin Port spills out onto the surrounding roads, and begins to impinge on the toll plaza, then the Port Tunnel will be closed.

Trucks heading to the Port will be instructed to turn around, and directed to parking spaces for heavy-goods vehicles (HGVs).

Figure 3 The turn-around facility to Dublin Port Department of Transport Department of Transport

Trucks will be ‘stacked’, or parked, on new motorway slips and in services areas in Lusk as a first port of call, but if the congestion is “particularly prolonged”, then trucks can be parked at the longterm ‘Blue Car Park’ at Dublin Airport.

The Blue Car Park allows for up to 8,000 car spaces; around 250 trucks will be allowed to park there temporarily; the relevant welfare facilities and canteens will be installed in the car park in the weeks before Christmas.

Authorities will gauge how bad the Dublin Port traffic is based on the length of time traffic is at a standstill, and what areas in the Port are backed up.

The plan for Dublin Port also includes enhanced traffic spacing at the northern Dublin Port Tunnel entrance, and a queue management system for heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) on the M50 northbound approach to the M1/M50 junction and on the M1 southbound.

Hauliers are being urged to familiarise themselves with the requirements for import and export controls ahead of 1 January, to ensure a smooth flow of trade.

This week, new digital lane control signs will go up on the road signs over the M50 Northbound in order to help clarify which lanes are for trucks.

Figure 2 Overhead Signage for M50 Northbound approaching M1/M50 Junction

The ‘traffic light’ system

The Department of Transport, the Dublin Port Company and Transport Infrastructure Ireland have been preparing Dublin Port for the impact of Brexit-related checks, which could severely impact on traffic in the surrounding areas.

It’s expected that businesses will stockpile ahead of the changes coming into effect from 1 January, and that this means the Port isn’t expected to be too busy for the first two weeks of the New Year.

It’s unclear whether congestion issues at Dublin Port will only apply to the first half of the year as officials and hauliers adapt to changes, or whether it will be a more longterm problem.

There are eight new Brexit-related facilities in six locations at Dublin Port. Customs officials and staff from the Department of Transport will direct trucks to the correct site, depending on the goods being transported.

There are yards that deal with equine, pets and animals; customs checks, an overflow terminal; and further inspections yards. Before trucks arrive at Dublin Port, Revenue will give hauliers either a ‘green route’ (to exit out of the Port) or a ‘red route’ (where checks are needed before exiting the Port).

This is the colour-coded system to deal with Brexit-related traffic:

  • Green: Business as usual at the port. 
  • Amber: Traffic flow deteriorates, and there’s a medium-to-high likelihood that the ports’ internal roads could potentially overflow.
  • Red: It’s imminent that the congestion in the Port will spill into roads outside the port, and this includes the Dublin Tunnel, Dublin City Council roads and the East Link/ Tom Clarke bridge.
  • Blue: All roads to the Port are congested.

It should be noted that Dublin Port has been at Status Green or Amber for all this year, and only goes into Status Red in cases such as extreme weather events.

Transport Minister Eamon Ryan said:

No matter what happens in the ongoing Brexit negotiations, there will be major changes in how we do business with the UK from 1 January. 

“This traffic management plan, which is the result of close collaboration by many different agencies, is designed to deal with any congestion that may arise due to increased level of checks at Dublin Port and to minimise the impact on the Port tunnel, nearby motorways and the rest of the city.

“We know that Brexit is a challenge for our hauliers, and thank them for their cooperation in ensuring they have the correct documentation to enter the port and that they  follow the alerts and signage provided.”

You can read more about the Government’s Brexit contingency plans here.

With reporting from Sean Murray

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