| 15.5°C Dublin

Safety fears as drivers plan detours to escape M50 tolls

TWO out of three motorists will change their route to avoid proposed M50 tolls -- pushing heavy traffic into Dublin's suburbs.

A new AA poll, released to the Herald, reveals that thousands of motorists will intentionally bypass the M50 if the Government presses ahead with controversial plans to impose new toll charges.

The AA warns that the measures will cause traffic chaos and will hit families financially.

The organisation surveyed more than 13,000 motorists this week and found that 61pc of those questioned said they would change their daily route if the 'multi-point' toll charges are introduced.

The results show that large scale traffic will be moved off the M50 and into the suburbs.

Opposition TDs have expressed their alarm at the results, with Fianna Fail warning that the measures have the potential to cause more road deaths.

The Herald revealed last month that the dramatic measures, which are currently under review by the National Roads Authority, have caused deep unrest amongst TDs.

A total of 23 TDs have so far come out in opposition to the proposals, including Government ministers Simon Coveney and Brian Hayes.

We further revealed that the NRA has already received expressions of interests in landing the contract to devise how the measures will be rolled out.

The plans will see tolling being introduced on every section of the M50, regardless of the length of the journey.

A raft of other routes across the country will also be hit, including the Dundalk bypass, the N20 at Mallow in Cork and the N20 at Croom in Limerick.


Consumer groups have estimated that the measures would cost cash-strapped families up to an extra f120 per month.

And transport organisations say additional tolling will "devastate" businesses.

In the above article, the director of policy at the AA, Conor Faughnan, condemns the proposals as "madness".

"To apply a toll on the entire length of the M50 would be an act of traffic planning madness.

"Spending hundreds of millions of euro on major new pieces of infrastructure and then forcing people not to use them is crazy. Tolling a by-pass is doubly so."

Mr Faughnan has also called on Transport Minister Leo Varadkar to quash the plans immediately.

And Fianna Fail Transport spokesperson Timmy Dooley said he was "majorly concerned" that multi-point tolling had the potential to increase road fatalities.

He told the Herald: "If today's survey results become a reality, motorists will be using smaller and more dangerous roads in a much greater number. This definitely will pose a serious risk to peoples' lives."

Labour Party TD Joe Costello said: "These plans are nonsensical. The whole idea of the likes of the M50 is to ensure motorists avoid towns and villages where possible."

The Department of Transport told the Herald that the measures were "still under review".