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Dublin: 15 °C Friday 10 July, 2020

'It is essentially a car park': Calls for fast-tracking of N11 upgrades

Fianna Fáil’s Stephen Donnelly says progress has been slow with no serious capital investment.


INVESTMENT AND UPGRADES to the N11 are needed to tackle the growing traffic congestion along the roadway, Fianna Fáil’s Stephen Donnelly has said. 

Drone footage captured during rush-hour morning traffic shows the extent of the backlog of cars making their way to Dublin each morning. 

The N11 is a major national road, connecting from Wexford to Dublin, and is one of the main routes used by commuters to the capital each day.

“As everyone in Wicklow knows the traffic on the N11 has been getting worse and worse and worse for five years now,” said local TD Donnelly, who added that “it is so bad now that very early in the morning the entire county is strangled with people going to work”.

For years, there have been promises to invest in the road, but Donnelly said so far all there has been are reports and feasibility studies.

“We are not seeing any serious capital invested,” he said, adding, that there have been several crashes amid gridlock traffic recently.

“The least that Wicklow residents can expect is that their main route to the capital is properly managed so they can leave and return safely. This road is used daily by people on their way to work, school and college and they deserve better.

“It is absolutely essential now that a third lane is added to the N11. The long-awaited report from Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) has warned that any delay in road network improvements will ‘constrain growth’ in the Wicklow/ Dun Laoghaire Rathdown area because it will hit our competitiveness and productivity,” he said.

Posted by on Friday, 10 July 2020

Third lane needed

In December 2016, Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) preliminary findings recommended that longer term, more permanent solutions should be invested in, referencing the need for a third lane at key choke points on the roadway.

The long-awaited report on how to improve the N11 was published in April 2017 and said that any delay in road network improvements will “constrain growth” and hinder productivity in Wicklow and Dún Laoghaire Rathdown areas.

It recommended a number of key improvements to the road network, including a third lane, which TII states is of vital importance nationally.

“It is imperative that it begins to operate more efficiently,” stated the report.

However, since then progress has been slow. 

Consultant engineers were appointed to progress the improvement scheme at the end of the last year, but there are a number of phases to begin from public consultation to design. 

To date, Transport Infrastructure Ireland announced funding of €2 million for the Kilmacanoge safety scheme, while €1 million to the design process for the major improvement works from Bray North to Coyne’s Cross. 

Drone footage showing tailbacks

To highlight the traffic jams, Donnelly’s drone footage from Wicklow from 6.30am shows a queue of cars already on the slip road at Newtownmountkennedy trying to get on the N11, while cars are backed up from Greystones to Newcastle. 

“It is essentially a car park and it could take two hours for people to get out of it,” he said. 

Commuter Ruth Donnelly uses the N11 to travel from Bray on to the M50 towards Tallaght everyday and says, “It’s all just congestion from the M50/N11 merge. If there’s an accident or breakdown, good luck – you’ll be stuck for hours so better going the back roads.”

Although they can be just as backed up with everyone has the same idea, she added. 

“What this footage proves, beyond a shadow of a doubt is that traffic is a genuine problem for commuters on the N11.  I will be showing this video to the Transport Minister and the NTA and telling them it further supports our calls for investment in Wicklow’s roads and public transport network,” said Donnelly.

More capacity needed

Transport Minister Shane Ross outlined last year that the TII has identified that, in addition to public transport improvements or investments along the M11-N11 corridor, additional road infrastructure or capacity is required.

“TII has considered various possible interventions to reduce congestion on the corridor and cater for continued growth in the Wicklow area. These interventions include upgrades to the M11 junctions, widening of sections of the M11 to three lanes, provision of service roads to address direct access and some local road improvements to assist in providing better links between local areas.

“As stated in the report, the proposals in the study are indicative at this stage and need further development, including engineering design and appraisal,” he said.

The minister added that TII is seeking funding under the mid-term capital review to commence work related to capacity improvements to the N11 between the M50 and Kilmacanogue, at an estimated cost of €30 million within the timeframe of the existing capital plan.

He said the estimate is indicative of the anticipated expenditure on some measures within the plan.

Wexford TD Mick Wallace has previously told the Dáil that it would not be possible to increase the number of lanes on an eight-kilometre stretch of motorway from two to three for less than €10 million per kilometre, which gives a total cost of €80 million as opposed to €30 million.

Ross said he frequently travels from Enniskerry to Dublin on the N11.

“I am frequently puzzled to find that the clear stretch of road between Shankill and Ashford suddenly gives way to a traffic jam on the dual carriageway. This is a most unusual phenomenon which will have to be addressed,” he said. 

“Commuters say it’s like sitting in a car park at rush hour. If the dual carriageway was expanded to three lanes from the M50 to Kilmacanogue junction 9, as per the suggestions by TII, that would certainly help.

“I’ve written to the Transport Minister asking him to explain exactly what progress is being made on upgrades to the N11. I’ve also asked Shane Ross to order a review of response times for emergency vehicles on the road. As we’ve seen crashes are more likely to happen when conditions are overcrowded and we need to be sure that help can make its way to those who need it. As ever, safety is paramount,” said Donnelly.

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