Trees and gardens due to get the chop under the controversial €2bn Bus Connects plan are to be saved, according to information seen by the Irish Independent.
The scheme to reduce traffic gridlock and journey times in Dublin was first mooted by the National Transport Authority (NTA) under the Bus Connects banner in 2018. But the proposal for 16 bus highways radiating out to the suburbs from the city centre was met with a widespread backlash.
Some 10,000 members of the public made submissions that were examined by the NTA before it drew up its revised plan, to be announced today.
While saving the trees and many of the gardens will be seen as a victory for opponents who tied ribbons around endangered mature trees on both sides of the Liffey, the plan will be a blow to drivers.
Car commuters will end up with two options - switch to public transport or adapt to kilometres of one-way systems and dozens of bus gates and traffic lights that will give priority to buses.
Apart from the plan to have 230km of dedicated bus corridors in the capital, there was also a proposal for 200km of cycle lanes. However concerns were raised by different cycling lobby groups about the safety of sharing roads and junctions with large buses and other traffic.
Some details of the Bus Connects redesign have been seen by the Irish Independent, and they show how public anger at the initial plan has led to a U-turn on cutting down mature trees and taking part of people's front gardens.
"Having reviewed submissions made during the first round of public consultation on the Emerging Preferred Routes for the 16 Core Bus Corridors (CBCs) during 2019, one of the key issues raised was the potential impact and removal of mature trees," said information seen by this newspaper.
"Bus Connects has made significant design revisions to the proposal in order to minimise the impact on mature trees while still achieving the required bus and cycling priority.
"Measures included in the preferred route option proposals to minimise the impact on trees while maintaining bus priority along each CBC include the introduction of signal-controlled priority bus gates, one-way systems for general traffic, implementing quiet street treatments and off-route cycle tracks where feasible.
"The vast majority of what may be considered landmark, long-term established and mature trees along many of the city streets and suburbs will no longer be impacted. There will be a comprehensive replanting programme during the construction of Bus Connects with more trees being replanted than removed.
"In addition there are a number of public realm areas identified across the corridors where significant planting will form an important part of their design."
According to the Bus Connects information, the vast majority of trees to be cut down will be to facilitate the construction of more off-line segregated cycle tracks, in some instances running behind the roadside treeline.
Examples include the cycleway along the River Poddle west of Kimmage Road Lower, and the new two-way segregated cycle track that will run inside the grounds of Hermitage Golf Club on the Lucan to City Centre CBC.
Another major issue identified during the first round of consultation was in relation to proposals to eat into gardens along the proposed corridors. It now appears alternatives have been explored that will reduce the need to widen roads to allow bus priority, which will see a 42pc decrease in affected properties.
Nutley Lane - The number of trees that may be removed on Nutley Lane has now been significantly reduced with all trees on the residential side of the road retained.
Baggot Street - Between Baggot Street Upper and Lower it is anticipated that over 90pc of trees will not be impacted, with four trees on Baggot Street Upper still potentially impacted.
Pembroke Road - By reducing the width of the cycle track in places and reducing the length of the right-turn lane onto Lansdowne Road, up to 90pc of existing mature trees along this road will be retained, with five trees still potentially impacted.
Merrion Road - By running a footpath and cycle track behind the existing trees, and reducing the width of both the existing footpath and cycle track, it is anticipated that approximately 80pc of trees can be retained.
St.Mobhi Road - Through the implementation of a one-way system, providing a cycle track behind the treeline, and narrowing the footpath on St.Mobhi Road, it is anticipated that over 85pc of existing trees will be retained.
Rathgar Road - No tree removal or land acquisition is required on Rathgar Road meaning that all trees will be retained along this section.
Shankill - The introduction of Signal Controlled Priority will reduce the impact on trees through Shankill and Urban Realm improvements will also be provided along this section.
Finglas Road - Almost all of the existing trees will be retained along the Finglas Road dual carriageway. Consequently, the number of trees to be removed from the Finglas – Phibsborough CBC has been reduced by approximately 75pc.
Kimmage - On the Kimmage to City Centre CBC, a Bus Gate is proposed at Ravensdale Park resulting in no widening of Kimmage Road Lower, eliminating the need for land take in this section while still maintaining bus priority.
Templeogue - Signal Controlled Priority is proposed at either side of Templeogue Village on the Tallaght to Terenure CBC. This will allow for bus priority through the village and in turn reduce the need for road widening along this section.
Rathgar - On the Rathfarnham to City Centre CBC a one-way, inbound system is proposed on Rathgar Road removing the need for land take.
Rathfarnham Road - Signal Controlled Priority is proposed on Rathfarnham Road, also on the Rathfarnham to City Centre CBC, between Rathdown Park and Bushy Park Road, reducing the need for land take along this section.
An alternative cycle route is proposed along the Owendoher River which further reduces the impact on properties.
Crumlin Road - On the Greenhills to City Centre CBC, by introducing Signal Controlled Priority and altering the road layout on Crumlin Road to a three-lane system, significantly less land take is required on the road.
Rock Road - On the Blackrock to Merrion CBC an adjustment to the road layout is proposed on the Rock Road between Booterstown Avenue and Blackrock Clinic. This will reduce the necessity for land acquisition along the road reducing the impact on a school, a college and adjacent properties.