New motorway saves on nerves but loses on time

 

FOLLOWING criticism of traffic congestion on Dublin's new Northern Cross motorway, which opened last Friday, I drove yesterday from Dundrum to Dublin Airport via the motorway at peak rush hour, between 8 and 10 am.

By far the worst delays were in the southern suburbs, between Dundrum and the southern end of the M50 at Tallaght Road, the area which should be served by the proposed Southern Cross motorway.

In the two hours, I travelled to the roundabout at the airport and returned through the centre of the city keeping to main roads, a total of 32 miles.

The distance via the motorway to the airport is twice as long as the direct route through the city centre, approximately 22 miles as against 10. The longer distance, however, took only 10 minutes more, one hour and five minutes, as against 55 minutes.

Leaving Belfield at 8 a.m. in the dark and drizzle, the initial phase of the journey through Dundrum and Churchtown was not too bad. I was going against the main flow of traffic. But at the Upper and Lower Dodder Road things came to a virtual standstill or at best a second gear crawl. It was nearly half an hour later (between the Dodder Road and Templeogue), before I could graduate to third gear.

Hitting the M50 at 8.40 a.m., the road ahead was clear. However, those going in the other direction did not seem to be so lucky. Vehicles were queueing for about a mile for the penultimate southbound motorway exit for Greenhills, Walkinstown and Ballymount (there are several industrial estates in the area).

At the toll bridge at 8.47 a.m., there was an orderly procession, with an attendant standing at the barrier to give drivers change if required. My only criticism is that there do not appear to be any early warning signs that you are approaching a toll gate or the amount due (80p).

The new northern section of the motorway was congestion free at that time, and driving at a modest 50 to 60 m.p.h. in a 70 m.p.h. limit area, I reached the end of the motorway in another 12 minutes, arriving at the airports roundabout, where there was severe congestion, at 9.05 a.m., 22 miles in one hour and five minutes.

On the return journey through the city, I encountered severe congestion at Whitehall Cross and Drumcondra Road. At about 9.25 a.m., congestion at O'Connell Street and O'Connell Bridge was very bad. Again, as in the southern suburbs, there is a proliferation of traffic signals in the case of O'Connell Street every 40 metres or less.

At 9.40 a.m. gardai were towing away vehicles illegally parked at the bottom of Grafton Street. The southside regained, I moved more easily against the main flow of traffic, which was heavy but moving. I completed the circuit just before 10 o'clock. Thirty two smiles in just under two hours.

The worst "blackspots" were the Dodder Road, the M50 southbound exit at Greenhills Road, the airport roundabout, Whitehall/ Drumcondra Road and O'Connell Street and Bridge.

Those readers who live in the south and south west Dublin areas may be interested to know that two weeks ago, before the Northern Cross motorway extension was opened, I was driven by taxi from Churchtown to the airport on a Thursday morning via Crumlin, Church Street, various city back streets, Glasnevin and Ballymun in 45 minutes.