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Saturday 3 December 2016

Calls to treble road investment as M50 traffic problems now at 'breaking point'

Laura Larkin and Paul Melia

Published 25/10/2016 | 02:30

Traffic at a standstill on the M50, affecting all of Dublin Picture: Arthur Carron
Traffic at a standstill on the M50, affecting all of Dublin Picture: Arthur Carron

Business groups have called on the Government to speed up plans to upgrade Dublin's road network in a bid to tackle the problems caused by a gridlocked M50.

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The calls came as Transport Infrastructure Ireland said that the country's busiest road network was "at breaking point".

The number of journeys taken every day on the M50 is 159,000, which is almost double the amount taken in 2008 when about 89,000 vehicles per day travelled over the West-Link Bridge on the M50.

The current traffic levels on the M50 mean that any incidents on the motorway cause hours of delays, which have an impact right across the capital.

The Dublin Chamber of Commerce last night called on the Government to treble its investment in transport infrastructure in order to avoid a "crisis".

Such investment was needed in order to keep Dublin on a par with similar cities competing for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), the chamber's director of public affairs manager Graeme McQueen said.

"When an FDI company is considering where to locate, one of the biggest considerations is quality of life for staff. People don't want to work and live in a city where they are forced to spend hours commuting every day. This is particularly important given the opportunities being thrown up by Brexit," he said.

"Without proper action there is a real danger that we are about to sleep-walk into a prolonged infrastructure crisis.

"The growing congestion problems today are the result of significant under-investment in transport infrastructure over the past decade.

"This under-investment means our transport system is considerably behind where it needs to be for a fast-growing city."

Mr McQueen said businesses were already looking at ways to operate around the traffic problems, including changing starting times for their staff.

Meanwhile, the National Transport Authority said that an "ambitious programme of investment" was needed to tackle the gridlock.

Neil McDonald of the Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association said that the congestion was "a symptom of not having an integrated traffic and freight management plan for the greater Dublin area".

Among measures to help address the problem is the Eastern Bypass and/or a Western Outer Orbital route, Mr McDonald said.

The Irish Road Haulage Association has also called for the shelved Leinster Orbital route to be re-examined.

Irish Independent

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