A range of measures aimed at restricting cars travelling through Dublin city centre is set to be introduced, amid opposition from city traders and some residents.
Dublin City Council’s plans for car restrictions along parts of the city quays are to be discussed and broadcast live at a meeting of the council’s transport committee in May.
North inner-city councillor Ciarán Cuffe, who chairs the council’s Strategic Policy Committee on Transport, said the meeting will consider responses from a recent period of public consultation on the traffic restrictions.
He said the plan was threefold: to make sure the significant investment in Luas Cross City is not wasted by having trams stuck in traffic; to create a civic space on College Green, and to facilitate the development of the proposed Liffey Cycle Route.
Under the plan, cars travelling east along the north Liffey quays will be required to turn left onto O’Connell Street from Bachelors Walk.
Cars will not be permitted to continue straight on to Eden Quay, which will be restricted to public transport, including taxis.
Traffic heading east will also be prohibited from turning right on to O’Connell Bridge.
Council management argue the changes need to be in place before Luas testing in August.
For motorists travelling west to east along the north quays, who are forced to turn left on to O’Connell Street, the shortest diversion route to return to the riverside at Custom House Quay would be 2.7km.
The same journey can currently be made in 550m.
Further traffic restrictions aimed at easing the passage of Luas trams include closing the right turn from Westmoreland Street into D’Olier Street, and,when all cross-city work has been completed, access to Nassau Street from Dawson Street will be via Molesworth Street and South Frederick Street.
The Liffey Cycle Route could see further restrictions on private traffic in the north inner city.
The proposed two-way cycle lane on the North Quays would involve private traffic being diverted off the quays and through Blackhall Place, North Brunswick Street and Church Street, a diversion of 1.5km.
A report commissioned by the council found the changes did not require an environmental impact assessment. and that the proposals are supported by cyclists who battle with traffic in the city centre on a daily basis.
However, opposition to the plans has come from chairman of Stoneybatter Pride of Place, former TD Joe Costello, who said the restrictions along the North Quays “will cause mayhem at the junction of Blackhall Place, North King Street, North Brunswick Street, Arbour Hill and Stoneybatter”.
Opposition to the plans has also come from Dublin Town, which is an initiative to improve the city centre.
Dublin Town said its legal advice suggested that it “could be unsafe for Dublin City Council” to forego an environmental impact assessment.
Independent councillor Nial Ring also said the changes were part of an “anti-motorist plan” for the city, while Lord Mayor Brendan Carr said he could not support the current proposals for a new cycle lane because it would divert traffic through residential areas.
He added that all the traffic management measures for the city centre should be considered in their entirety.
The Irish Parking Association has expressed its “strong opposition” to the plans.
It said the consequences of these changes will be extremely damaging for the social fabric and economic well-being of Dublin city centre.
Among the issues raised by the association was “the creation of circuitous diversion routes resulting from these changes will result in significant increases in vehicular traffic through residential neighbourhoods, including Stoneybatter, Smithfield, Dorset Street, Gardiner Street etc”.
It said “ very lengthy diversions” would result in more CO2 emissions, while the changes were “ biased” towards the promotion of public transport to the “complete exclusion of motorists”.
It said the quays represent “a critical means of access” to visitors from the west of the country and the proposals will cut off access to areas such as the IFSC, Point Village, 3 Arena, Bord Gáis Energy Theatre and more.
Mr Cuffe said he was “optimistic” that a solution would be found to congestion in the north inner city.
He said there were benefits in “giving the city more livability, walkability and cyclability”.
The Strategic Policy Committee will meet on May 3rd and it is to be broadcast live on dublincity.ie