Merrion Gates closure plan shelved
New cycling route proposals could see property acquisition at Seapoint
The Dart crossing at Merrion Gates in Dublin 4. Photograph: Eric Luke
The National Transport Authority (NTA) has shelved plans to close Dublin’s Merrion Gates level crossing to traffic and build a flyover between Strand Road and Merrion Road in Dublin 4, following huge local opposition.
However, the authority has warned that traffic congestion at Merrion Gates is likely to worsen and a solution will have to be found in the future.
It is also developing a new off-road cycle route, likely to involve property acquisition at Seapoint.
In October 2016, the NTA published plans to tackle lengthy tailbacks on the Merrion Road and Rock Road caused by the funnelling of traffic through Merrion Gates into the narrow Strand Road towards Ringsend.
The plan proposed the closure of the level crossing, with traffic diverted on to a new flyover road over the rail line further north through the car parks of Merrion Hall on Strand Road and Our Lady Queen of Peace church on Merrion Road.
The project would also facilitate the extension of the Dublin Bay cycle path – a continuous coastal route from Sutton to Sandycove, known as the S2S – to the south side, by digging an underpass at the level crossing for use by cyclists and pedestrians.
The scheme would require the widening of Merrion Road and Rock Road with the acquisition of 35 properties, mostly front gardens, but a small number of houses and other buildings.
By January 2017, the NTA had received 680 submissions, almost half of which opposed the construction of the traffic flyover.
However, the NTA said it had been unable to come up with an alternative scheme because of EU protections on the seafront.
“Other than closing Merrion Gates without providing a replacement road link, we have not identified a viable alternative scheme that complies with current environmental law.”
Having identified no alternative, the NTA has now decided to shelve the scheme. “However, this means that the issue of the reduced time that will be available for traffic and other road users at the Merrion Gates level crossing as the frequency of Dart services increases, is not addressed, and will need to be addressed at a future date,” it said.
The NTA said it would proceed with the section of the cycle route south of Merrion Gates to Seapoint, but would not turn Seapoint Avenue into a one-way street as previously planned, a measure which had been opposed by one-in-five submissions.
Instead it proposes to build a cycling and pedestrian bridge over the Dart line at Idrone Terrace to allow the cycle route to run between the sea wall and the Dart line. The route will then travel around the perimeter of Maretimo headland and then onto an elevated boardwalk from Maretimo to Seapoint.
While planning for this new proposal is in its early stages, “property acquisition is likely at Seapoint”, the NTA said.
It said it would also fund the Dublin city end of the cycle path from Sean Moore Park in Irishtown along the coast to Merrion Gates.