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Transport

Traffic to be diverted from congested quays under proposed rehaul of Dublin city centre roads

Transport officials have devised a draft plan aimed at reducing traffic congestion in the capital.

DIVERTING TRAFFIC AWAY from the parts of the quays and dedicating more space to bus and cycle lanes form key parts of proposals to overhaul road use in Dublin city centre, according to a presentation given to councillors this afternoon.

Transport officials have devised a draft plan aimed at reducing traffic congestion caused by through-traffic and improving access to public transport, as well as facilitating more walking and cycling in the city centre.

A public consultation on the major redesign has opened today and will remain open until 1 December for members of the public to offer input into the Dublin City Centre Transport Plan.

Dublin City Council’s Executive Manager for Traffic Brendan O’Brien and the Nationals Transport Authority’s Director of Public Transport Service Hugh Creegan presented the proposed changes to councillors at this afternoon’s meeting of the Traffic and Transport committee.

Under the plan, private vehicle traffic on the North and South Quays would no longer be allowed to drive along Bachelor’s Walk and Aston Quay, with access restricted to buses, taxis, cyclists and pedestrians.

Pearse Street from Westland Row to Sandwith Street would become a two-way road. The left-hand turn onto Pearse Street for traffic travelling north along Westland Row would be restricted to public transport and cyclists, with a new right-hand turn created for general traffic at that junction.

“Westland Row will no longer be a through route to Pearse Street but will allow access towards the Samuel Beckett Bridge instead,” the draft plan outlines.

The plan hopes that the changes proposed at Westland Row and the removal of through traffic from the South Quays at Aston Quay “will result in the Pearse Street-Tara Street route no longer comprising a major traffic artery”.

Instead, the plan considers two potential options for redesigning how the flow of major traffic routes are managed.

The first is making Beresford Place two-way and reducing the number of lanes on Gardiner Street from four to two to make it safer for pedestrian and cyclist use; creating a public space from Liberty Hall to Custom House by removing through traffic and opening the road space for walking, cycling, greenery and seating; and diverting general traffic from the south side along Custom House Quay to a two-way link at Memorial Bridge.

The second is to close the quay at Custom House and to reroute all traffic around the back of the building, which would allow for a public space to be created at the other side, a reduction in lanes from Liberty Hall to Custom House, and maintaining the currently one-way gyratory at Beresford Place but with a contra-flow bus and cycle facility.

Across the river, traffic would be removed from College Green and Dame Street from the junction with George’s Street eastwards on a phased basis in line with changes to bus services.

Several councillors welcomed the proposals, with Councillor Michael Pidgeon calling it “one of the most consequential plans for Dublin” since the removal of traffic from Grafton Street and “exactly the sort of direction we should be going”.

Others expressed concerns about how the plan would impact businesses and whether it would simply push traffic congestion onto other streets rather than reducing it overall.

In addition to alleviating congestion in the city centre, the plan is also motivated by the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the transport sector.

As Ireland tries to cut emissions to play its part in fighting climate change, Minister for Climate Eamon Ryan has repeatedly asserted that the transport sector will be one of the most difficult to decarbonise.

Emissions from transport must be cut by 50% over the coming years to comply with legally binding climate targets.

Overall, Ireland’s emissions were higher in 2021 than 2020 and dropped only 1.9% in 2022, leading to stark warnings from the Environmental Protection Agency and the Climate Change Advisory Council that urgent action needs to be taken to get the country back on track.

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