Traffic congestion could be lightest in years


THE ANNUAL autumn return of traffic congestion is expected to be the lightest in many years due to the recession and road improvements. AA Roadwatch is predicting that the increased traffic expected this week as schools return will be significantly down on previous years.

The downturn in the economy has meant a reduction in car traffic by 4 per cent and a reduction on truck traffic by almost 13 per cent, AA Roadwatch controller Nicola Hudson said. Notorious bottlenecks such as the M50 Red Cow roundabout and the Dock Road in Limerick would no longer play a “starring role” in its traffic bulletins, Ms Hudson added.

The official completion of the M50 upgrade tomorrow, with the opening of the M50/N3 Blanchardstown interchange, was one of the most significant changes, she said.

“This means that the busiest interchanges on the M50, the N4, N7 [Red Cow] and N3 Blanchardstown junctions will all now be free-flowing. The motorway now also has three lanes in its busiest locations. The M50 traffic volumes are actually rising, but the road is better able to cope.”

The opening of key inter-urban connections is also expected to help traffic. More than a quarter of Ireland’s total length of motorway (188km) opened in 2010.

The elimination of key bottlenecks is also highlighted by Ms Hudson. The opening of the M3 motorway this summer has seen traffic in Dunshaughlin, Co Meath, almost halve.

While traffic patterns will be different, AA Roadwatch warns that Ireland will not be free of traffic jams. A downside to motorways was that “when an incident does occur it affects many more vehicles”, Ms Hudson said.