Monday 25 June 2018

Cars face ban at College Green as new, longer, Luas trams introduced

The plaza scheme for College Green
The plaza scheme for College Green

Paul Melia and Ryan Nugent

Diverting traffic from College Green will be among a number of options considered to ensure Dublin's new, longer trams can run smoothly - but there will be no delay to their introduction.

The National Transport Authority (NTA) says it is working with Dublin City Council (DCC) to come up with a plan before the Cross-City Luas trams are put on stream by the end of February.

Adjustments to the current traffic management system is one option being looked at, along with potentially "moving traffic in a different direction" said an NTA spokesman.

Alterations to traffic signalling will be looked at but both the NTA and Luas operators Transdev have insisted that demand for the service means there will be no delay.

"There's absolutely no question about that. It is badly needed," the NTA spokesman said.

Seven new trams are due to be put in place in late-February or early March.

Dublin City Council CEO Owen Keegan is keen to go ahead with College Green plaza plans
Dublin City Council CEO Owen Keegan is keen to go ahead with College Green plaza plans

The Irish Independent understands that new traffic plans are necessary. "There's too many forms of movement and traffic interaction in one area, that's why DCC have applied to An Bord Pleanála for a plaza at College Green," a source said.

A hearing into DCC's proposal for the College Green plaza was delayed due to an EU directive error as a newspaper advertisement in November only gave notice of a 21-day public consultation period. It is now expected the hearing will take place in mid-February.

Speaking to the Irish Independent, DCC chief executive Owen Keegan said that only banning cars and buses from the area will alleviate the situation.

Pedestrians

"We've had to intervene to keep it (Luas) operating. It has settled but there are a series of interventions needed to keep it rolling on," he said. "Pedestrian priority has been curtailed, and it's taking longer to cross. (Waiting times) could have doubled," he said.

"We're very confident that trying to maintain east-west traffic on College Green is not sustainable. We're going to need to give that back to pedestrians."

Mr Keegan said there wasn't sufficient road space to cater for all modes of transport, and buses and cars would have to be removed to allow Luas to run. He added that more frequent services and the introduction of longer trams would present additional problems.

"I'm very confident (College Green) will go ahead. Business did endorse it. Dublin Bus was reasonably on board with it. Everybody either wants it, or wants it with east-west traffic which means you can't have it.

"For Luas to work, we need to remove east-west traffic. There is a sense of people getting used to it, but a significant amount of intervention is from the city council to make it work."

On Thursday, Mr Keegan said DCC would have to review the current traffic plan to allay any further issues.

A DCC spokesman said no decision on possible changes had yet been made.

Irish Independent

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