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Thursday 21 September 2017

'Smarter travel' plans on way to reduce car usage

Paul Melia and Michael Brennan

ONE-third of the country's busiest roads will carry dangerous levels of traffic at peak times unless the number of vehicles using them are reduced.

The National Roads Authority (NRA) said that 1,850 cars per hour will use 16 of the 50 sections of Dublin's M50 within a decade, which will result in more collisions and congestion.

A report on how to manage demand, presented to city and county councillors from the four Dublin local authorities yesterday, said it will take up to six years to devise and implement "smarter travel" plans which aim to reduce car usage.

Four areas have been identified for these plans – Sandyford/Stillorgan, Park West, City West and Cherrywood – but they will take years to implement.

Although the M50 was upgraded three years ago at a cost of €1bn, the report says that "safe operational capacity" is already exceeded at peak time on several junctions, including the connections with the M1, N4 and M7, and that congestion will become "commonplace" within a decade.

The NRA believes that up to five separate tolling points could be introduced to reduce demand by as much as 10pc, taking 11,000 vehicles a day off the road.

The Irish Independent yesterday revealed that each toll would be €1.30, meaning a motorist who travels the full length of the road would be hit with a bill of up to €6.50. It would result in motorists paying an additional €62m a year in tolls – up from €95m at present.

The recommendation for more tolls was sharply criticised by motoring groups and politicians, who said it would drive traffic back onto local roads.

Transport Minister Leo Varadkar said he did not believe the imposition of additional tolls was necessary.

"The introduction of multi-point tolling would require a policy decision on my part. I'm not going to authorise it," Minister Varadkar added.

Irish Independent

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