| 7°C Dublin

Lower speed limits at peak times among new plans to improve M50


Traffic volumes on the M50 are up 7pc so far this year

Traffic volumes on the M50 are up 7pc so far this year

Traffic volumes on the M50 are up 7pc so far this year

Variable speed limits are to be introduced on the city's busiest road to improve traffic flows and reduce congestion.

Changes to access roads onto the M50, new signage to direct motorists to alternative routes in the event of lane closures caused by collisions, and new orbital bus routes have been announced to help reduce gridlock on the motorway.

The main measure involves introducing so-called variable speed limits, where the upper limit is reduced at peak times. This helps maintain average speeds across the length of the motorway, with less crossing and risk of collisions.

It comes amid concern about growing traffic volumes on the motorway, which caters for more than 350,000 vehicles a day. Economic growth, including a demand for goods and increased sales of new cars, are resulting in congestion on the road.

It is a key artery which facilities local and inter-urban traffic as well as freight.

Traffic volumes are increasing, with numbers up 7pc so far this year. This follows a 5pc growth in 2014.

In the short-term, over the next year, a number of measures are being enacted.

They include improved merging layouts, which are now being trialled on the N3 and M1 airport junctions. This gives motorists more time to enter the motorway at junctions, and it is proposed to extend this to the N4, N7 and N81 junctions.

There will also be permanent signed diversion routes put in place that will direct motorists to alternative routes on local roads.

The diversions will be put in place in the event of collisions, and motorists will be advised of the changes through variable messaging systems across the motorway.

A medium-term measure - which will take up to three years to implement and is expected to cost between €30m and €40m - involves adjusting the speed limits at certain junctions at busy times, for example in the morning and evening peaks.

Motorists will be told in advance of the lower limits, which can be changed to suit traffic conditions by way of variable message signs at overhead gantries.

The measure is likely to involve ramped-up enforcement on speeding.