Saturday 24 February 2018

AA Roadwatch expecting the 'worst traffic season' in years

AA Roadwatch editor Arwen Foley
Sarah Stack

Sarah Stack

Motorists are bracing themselves for traffic chaos and the worst congestion since the recession.

AA Roadwatch warned traffic volumes are up in cities across the country, with the rise in new cars due to add to traffic jams.

It said it expects the “worst traffic season” in years as it celebrates 25 years on the airwaves.

“Traffic volumes are up across the road network and we are seeing that every day,” said editor of AA Roadwatch, Arwen Foley.

“September and the return of schools and colleges always marks our busiest season for traffic.

“In the major population centres, especially Dublin, Cork and Galway, we have seen congestion increase noticeably this year.

“We are expecting the months from now until Christmas to be the busiest in years.”

Congestion is set to be like what was endured before the financial crisis in 2008, and may return to the ‘bad old days’ of jams and delays hitting towns and cities during the Tiger boom.

The AA’s traffic monitors said the increases on the road networks is undoubtedly a side effect of the improving economy.

At 1.88 million vehicles, private car ownership in Ireland has more than doubled since 1989. New car sales are up by 30pc so far this year with fuel sales are running about 8pc ahead of last year.

“Every silver lining has a cloud," Ms Foley added.

“We all welcome any sign of improvement in the economy but in fact traffic jams often come with it.”

The AA said the heaviest routes this year include the N17 and Headford Road in Galway, Swords Road in Dublin and Cork city centre.

However works expected to affect traffic over the coming months include the cross Dublin Luas line in the capital, Newlands Cross and the N11 upgrade.

Conor Faughnan, one of the AA’s first on-air voices, said traffic jams in Dublin were at their very worst from 1994 to 2004, when the city was internationally famous for congestion.

Since then major improvements include the completion and widening of the M50, the removal of the universally-hated toll booths from the Westlink Bridge, new Luas Lines, rail upgrade and – crucially – the building of the Dublin Port Tunnel and the subsequent city centre HGV ban, he said.

“The last few years have been so traumatic for the country that you could easily forget how much progress has been made,” said Mr Faughnan, now director of consumer affairs.

“The road network has improved out of all recognition. We now have modern motorways connecting Dublin to the major cities and the primary road network is of a standard that we hardly dared dream about in the 80s.”

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