Roads big winner with €10.2bn earmarked as old plans dusted off
Dublin Metro to get €3bn and diesel electric trains to benefit from 300 new rail carriages
Dublin’s M50: A new “M50 Dublin Port south access” road is proposed. Photograph: Alan Betson
At €10.2 billion, the allocation for roads under the National Development Plan far exceeds the €2 billion Irish Rail will get for renewal and expansion of the Dart to Maynooth, Hazelhatch and Drogheda.
It also dwarfs the provision of €2.4 billion for “BusConnect” services in regional cities and €3 billion for the Dublin Metro.
The figure of €10.2 billion includes €5.7 billion for national roads and €4.5 billion for local and regional roads.
Road engineers at Transport Infrastructure Ireland were said to be overjoyed on Friday as the Government dusted off many of the major road schemes which were shelved during the economic crash.
Investments by port companies, including €230 million as part of the masterplan for Dublin Port, and €320 million being spent on a new runway by Dublin Airport Authority, are small compared to the spend on new roads.
Among the big ticket road schemes to be brought forward is the Limerick to Cork motorway and the proposed €600 million Galway ring road.
A new “M50 Dublin Port south access” road is also proposed. Previous attempts to link the M50 across the south city and into the port met with resistance more then a decade ago, when it became known the route involved a motorway across Sandymount Strand. The new proposal will not be as extreme and will involve only a new regional road linking Sandymount with the strategic development zone at the Poolbeg peninsula, and on to the port tunnel to the north. The extended route, however, will be from the M50 via the N11 to Sandymount and into the port tunnel.
Investments in cross-Border routes have also returned to the road-building agenda including “support” for the Narrow Water Bridge across Carlingford Lough and the N5A5 road in the northwest.
Some of the roads in the plan, however, are already under way, such as the M7 Naas to Newbridge bypass widening, the Osberstown interchange and Sallins bypass as well as the Enniscorthy bypass in Co Wexford.
In all, the plan lists more then 40 road schemes, many of which are costed in the hundreds of millions of euro.
Maynooth and Drogheda
A big feature of the Dart plan is to be the immediate placing of an order for new carriages which will include diesel-battery engines – described as “the Toyota Prius” of trains. This would allow Irish Rail to improve capacity well in advance of electrification to Maynooth and Drogheda lines.
Currently, a contract is under way to refurbish 28 rail carriages expected to re-enter service in 2019. The programme of new diesel electric trains would enable the enlargement of the rail fleet by about 300 new rail carriages.
The Bus Connects project is to ease congestion through increased bus use in city centres. Galway City and County councils in particular have established that there is a need to provide relief from traffic congestion in order to implement smarter mobility and public transport measures. Galway “BusConnects” includes a network of park-and-ride sites. Previous studies have indicated that this requires another river Corrib bridge crossing. The N6 Galway City Transport Project confirmed that such a crossing is possible and has identified a preferred location.