Transport | Plans for alleviation of heavy traffic congestion
To ask the Minister for Transport the extent, if any, to which heavy vehicles use the main arterial routes to and from the city at peak travel times; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
To ask the Minister for Transport the measures proposed or currently in hand to alleviate traffic congestion of main routes such as the M50, M1, M4 and M7; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
To ask the Minister for Transport the extent to which any upgrading of arterial routes to the city can be completed to speed-up local commutes; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
To ask the Minister for Transport the extent of any restrictions on heavy trucks at peak times; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
As Minister for Transport, I have responsibility for overall policy and exchequer funding in relation to the National Roads Programme. Once funding arrangements have been put in place with Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII), under the Roads Acts 1993-2015, and in line with the National Development Plan (NDP), the planning, design, improvement and upgrading of individual national roads is a matter for TII, in conjunction with the local authorities concerned. TII ultimately delivers the National Roads Programme in line with Project Ireland 2040, the National Planning Framework and the NDP.
A priority in the NDP, in line with the Department’s investment hierarchy, is to maintain the quality and safety of the existing national road network. The NDP foresees an exchequer allocation of circa €2.9 billion for the Protection and Renewal of existing national roads over the 10-year period to 2030 (excluding Public Private Partnerships), allocated fairly evenly across the decade.
The Dublin arterial routes are a system of routes which provide access to the Greater Dublin Area, converging onto the M50. They consist of motorways and national roads, namely the M1, N2, N3, N4, N7, N81 and M11. These roads are some of the busiest routes in the country.
TII’s performance indicators for 2021 indicate that generally, there is a very significant drop off in traffic demand along the routes as they progress further from the city. This is to be expected as population and job densities decrease. However, the M7 shows significant traffic demand even at a greater distance from the city. Traffic demand further from the city on the M1, M4 and N11 is lower than on the M7 but still remains reasonably high.
The average Annual Average Daily Traffic on these radial routes as they enter or leave the M50 varies depending on the route, from 23,500 on the N81 to 102,250 on the M1. Of these numbers, the percentage of HGVs also varies from 2.5% on the N81 to 12.8% on the N2, highlighting the importance of the national road network in supporting the economy and in facilitating trade across Ireland.
As mentioned previously, one of TII’s priorities is to maintain the quality and safety of the existing national road network, including these radial routes. A bus priority scheme is planned for the N11/M11 and work is ongoing on the draft option selection report. Bus priority measures on the M4 are also progressing with the design of the preferred option for a new bus priority corridor on the inbound hard shoulder continuing. Public consultation took place in September on the main M4 Maynooth to Leixlip transport corridor project options assessment.
The M7 widening scheme was completed in late 2020 and involved the widening of the M7 motorway from a 2-lane to a 3-lane carriageway, in each direction, starting from the 3-lane N7 dual carriageway east of Junction 9 Naas North to the M7 and M9 merge at Junction 11 in Co Kildare. The scheme included the removal of the existing on/off access ramps at Junction 10 Naas South and the construction of a new interchange, immediately south of the existing Junction 10. The scheme was developed to improve journey time reliability and safety along the route as well as to relieve congestion and enhance links between Dublin and the south of the country.
On the N3, there is a project at an early stage which seeks to address congestion between Clonee and the M50, by improving the existing junctions and incorporating priority measures for buses.
As previously mentioned, a priority in the NDP, in line with the Department’s typical investment hierarchy, is to maintain the quality and safety of the existing national road network and the projects I have outlined aim to meet that requirement.
Another measure being undertaken by TII to manage traffic on the M50, including HGV traffic, is the introduction of Variable Speed Limits. This project will implement Variable Speed Limits on the M50 that are most appropriate to the prevailing traffic conditions at that time. The project aims to reduce the adverse impacts of future traffic growth on the level of service provided by the M50, as well as reducing the impact of congestion and the level of disruption resulting from incidents on the M50. It also aims to improve the safety record of the M50 and the wider motorway and high-speed dual carriageway network as traffic volumes continue to grow. Congestion on the M50 impacts on the connecting arterial roads, so these measures will also result in reduced congestion on the approaches to Dublin.
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