N11 road-improvement scheme targets Glen of the Downs

Developers say move seeks to prioritise public transport and reduce car volumes

A route through Glen of the Downs in Co Wicklow has emerged as the preferred option for a road-improvement scheme which would increase capacity of the N11 Dublin to Wexford road.

The Glen of the Downs was previously the scene of a three-year stand-off between road developers and “eco-warriors” who occupied part of the area from 1997 to 2000.

The preferred route for the latest upgrade of the road emerged after consultants for Wicklow County Council and Transport Infrastructure Ireland dropped other options including a tunnel through the Glen; two potential routes to the east which crossed Delgany Golf Club; and a western option along Downshill.

Developers say the new scheme will seek to prioritise public transport in an attempt to reduce private car volumes. The website says the scheme aims to “improve the transport carrying capacity of the N11/M11 route by prioritising person throughput rather than vehicle throughput”.


It is understood this means a bus lane but consultants Arup did not respond to questions on Wednesday.

The scheme is part of a 22km upgrade to the strategic N11/M11 extending from the existing M11/M50 junction at Shankill, Co Dublin, to the N11/M11 junction at Coyne’s Cross, near Ashford in Co Wicklow.

Prior to the pandemic the N11 dual carriageway through the Glen of the Downs had been frequently choked with traffic at peak times in the morning, and volumes have been rising significantly since the easing of Covid-19 restrictions. Some 70 per cent of all journeys along the route are made using private cars.

In addition to the public transport focus, the new scheme aims to separate local and national traffic through a number of parallel local roads north and south of the Glen and the closure of many access points to the national route. A number of east-west crossing points will be developed along the road.

The consultants’ plans were drawn up on behalf of the Wicklow and Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown local authorities along with Transport Infrastructure Ireland.

Access closure

Specific changes to existing roads include the closure of access through Delgany village to the national route. Access from the northbound carriageway to the Willow Grove would also be closed as would access from the N11 southbound to Delgany Village via an off ramp at Barry’s Bridge.

Access to and from the N11 at Drummin on the R762 would also be closed. Traffic heading south along the N11 would access Delgany or the Willow Grove via the existing Kilpedder interchange and underpass.

A bridge at Drummin would connect the Willow Grove directly to the R762 Glen Road leading to Delgany, separating local from national traffic.

In a series of announcements on the scheme's website, the consultants say the preferred option is environmentally superior to all others. They say improving the existing route was "the overall top performing option" which offered "sustainable use of the existing network" while minimising waste and the scheme's carbon footprint.

Yasmin Fortune, of Glen of the Downs Heritage group, said that while she felt the best option would have been a tunnel, maps relating to the proposed option showed little interference with the oak forest in the Glen or the Three Trouts Stream, ancient hillforts at Coolagad or Downshill or the historic villages of the Downs and Delgany.

Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien is an Irish Times journalist