€50m plan to end traffic nightmare at level crossing on Dart tracks
The National Transport Authority (NTA) is planning to spend almost €50m removing a notorious traffic bottleneck in Dublin.
Transport bosses want to build a new road to cross the Dart line at Strand Road on the southside of the city, and develop a 6.5km walking and cycling facility connecting Seapoint with Irishtown.
The plan will affect 35 properties, and will require some land to be acquired under compulsory purchase orders.
A number of homes may also be purchased.
The scheme is designed to eliminate major traffic disruption at the Merrion Gates, where a Dart level crossing is closed for up to 20 minutes per hour at peak times, causing major congestion.
The situation is expected to worsen when Irish Rail introduces a 10-minute Dart service to cope with morning and evening rush-hours.
Speaking at the launch of a public consultation process, Transport Minister Shane Ross said that increased traffic volumes arising from economic growth placed a "strain" on transport infrastructure.
"The area around Merrion Gates is a case in point and the document that the NTA is publishing not only presents a detailed analysis of the transport needs along this stretch, but also lays out a framework for tackling the situation once and for all," he said.
"Today marks the beginning of a consultation process and the NTA is anxious that as many people as possible engage in that process."
The main elements of the plan include:
A new cycleway along Dublin Bay between Irishtown and Seapoint, totalling 6.5km, and completion of the pedestrian and cycle route from Blackrock to the city centre.
The Merrion Gate level crossing will be closed, and the area transformed into a cul-de-sac with a pedestrian and cycling underpass beneath the Dart line.
The Strand Road - which connects with the Merrion Road - will be realigned to include a new bridge over the Dart line, some 250 metres north of the current level crossing.
This short link road will connect the southern end of the Strand Road to Merrion Road, north of the existing Merrion Gates junction, and pass through the grounds of Merrion Hall and the car park area of Our Lady Queen of Peace church.
A 250-metre pedestrian boardwalk over the beach on the Strand Road is also proposed.
A major upgrade of the Rock Road and Merrion Road will include new bus lanes and a segregated cycletrack.
A segregated cycleway on Rock Road will move through parkland until Blackrock station, before continuing onto Idrone Terrace and Newtown Avenue. Sections of these roads will become one-way to facilitate the cycletrack.
NTA chief executive Anne Graham said the proposed solution was the "preferred" option, but was subject to public consultation.
"If members of local communities or public transport users or cyclists or road users or the business community have suggestions as to how we can do this better, we will certainly reflect that in the finalised plans," she said.
The cost of the coastal element of the scheme, which includes the new road bypassing Merrion Gates, is between €22m and €26m. The Rock Road/Merrion Road improvements will cost between €18m and €22m. The closing date for submissions is December 16.