Public Transport and road access to North Wicklow ignored.
The Plan seems to ignore Wicklow in spite it having grown more than 3 of the 4 Dublin Councils. 45% of the population of Wicklow lives in the Metropolitan area and is thus obliged to accept high density development as happened with Charlesland. This % is much higher than other Mid East Counties. Population targets handed down to Councils insist on a large expansion of zoned land, for example, Greystones was required to rezone extra land for 24,000 compared to a current 17,500. The NTA must provide public transport and roads to cope.
Regional Planning Guidelines for the Greater Dublin Area 2010-2022. This is the superior planning document for the GDA and it states ‘an overall strategy developed as part of the NTA Vision document, a range of actions to improve the functioning of the M50/M-N11 area including measures such as traffic management and upgrade works, expansion of road capacity, bus priority, improved rail services and other identified options’.
This is the top listed project in the RPG Road Section. Of the 6 major radial routes out of Dublin it is the only one which has not been modernised. In addition Mr Creegan, of the NTA, gave a commitment to the RPG office that the NTA Strategy included dealing with this problem (more details below). The current Implementation Plan has ignored this high priority aspect of the RPGs and Mr Creegans commitment, given as part of the approval process of the NTA Strategy. The following items are among those that should be included:
Rail. The frequency needs to be improved. A report some years ago for Wicklow Co Co said that the most congested single track section was around Bray Head, which was at capacity, and recommended a passing loop there and at around Newcastle. However double tracking from Greystones Station to the South entrance to Bray Head tunnels would be much more effective. This would allow more flexibility for delays and allow a frequency increase. There looks to be enough space for this and Irish Rail asked for enough space to be left for a second track when the Harbour Plan was being developed.
Normally there is a 20 mph speed limit between Dun Laoghaire and Sandycove stations. This is too low for a modern rail system and work should be done on the track to speed it up. The journey time of 55 minutes to Greystones is long for a 20 mile journey.
Luas. This needs to be extended to Bray and possibly Fassaroe.
Bus. Express busses, with bus lanes and avoiding Bray Main Street, need to be used more to Greystones and other places. The NRA report (see below) states that better bus services will not work well with the present congestion on the N11 at Fassaroe. Thus this needs to be improved. More bus information signs are needed specifically at Blacklion, Charlesland and Kilcoole.
Further details of these points are below.
1. M50/N11 Status in RPGs as the top Road and Transport Scheme for Implementation to 2022
Regional Planning Guidelines for the Greater Dublin Area 2010-2022 S6.3.2 Road Transport
In addition to the above, it is recommended that relevant Local Authorities and transport departments undertake, as part of an overall strategy developed as part of the NTA Vision document, a range of actions to improve the functioning of the M50/M-N11 area including measures such as traffic management and upgrade works, expansion of road capacity, bus priority, improved rail services and other identified options.
Table 9 RPG. Proposed Transport Investment Proposals for GDA.
Undertake, as part of an overall strategy developed by relevant stakeholders a solution and range of actions and works to improve the functionality of the strategic road network, including the M50/N-M11 area, consistent with the NTA Strategy.
The only other road schemes mentioned in the RPGs are the Outer Orbital Route and Eastern Bypass both of which are to be implemented after 2022. The requirement to improve the M50/N11 and the N11 at Arklow are the only other schemes explicitly listed in the RPGs, the guiding planning document. The Arklow scheme is underway which leaves the M50/N11 as the only other one explicitly listed for the period to 2022.
2. NTA letter to Dublin Regional Authority, 20/7/2011
During the Statutory approval process of the NTA Strategy the RPG officials wrote to the NTA to ask how the strategy conformed to the RPGs. Mr Creegan’s (Director of Transport Planning and Investment) reply to the Dublin Regional Authority states that their Strategy ‘provides a comprehensive commitment to addressing the functionality and performance of the strategic road network (which includes the interface of the M11 and M50 motorways)’. I can provide you with a copy if you wish. The current Implementation Plan does not mention this at all.
3. NTA Proposals for Phasing… Transport Infrastructure … Cherrywood, conflict with NRA N11 Corridor Review Report.
The NTA proposals on Cherrywood SDZ state (10.6 p49) ‘it is necessary to review road capacity (M11/M50) over time as development occurs in Cherrywood’. This conflicts with the NRA Report below which states ‘it is not suited to cater for current traffic volumes’.
4. N11 Corridor Review Fassaroe Junction to Kilmacanoge March 2010. Roughan & O’Donovan-Aecom.
This is a comprehensive study of the problem produced for the NRA. It states (p3) ‘because of the piecemeal nature of the historical development of the N11 mainline in the Bray area there are a number of aspects of the route that are inconsistent with the overall N11 route standard, are non compliant with current road design standards and/or not suited to cater for current traffic volumes’. It lists a number of ways of improving the road.
It also states (p5) that putting the LUAS to Fassaroe will not improve traffic as it will still have to travel through the congested section to reach a Park n’ Ride there. In my view that Park n’ Ride would reduce N11 mainline capacity because of the large volume of merging/demerging.
‘Major public transport improvements are required to provide an alternative to car transport along the N11 corridor…enhanced bus services are probably the only realistic option for improving public transport links to the region south of Bray. Long distance express services would use the N11 route and would benefit from improvements to that route to reduce delays and congestion’.
Although the RPGs, the superior planning policy, list this road as the top one for improvement in the GDA no action has taken place to implement a single part of these plans in 3 years. Specifically these should be the interim ones in the merging report, item 4 Link N11 Western Parallel Road and 3 Upgrade Fassaroe Interchange. It would also be useful for the NRA, the NTA and the 2 Councils to set up a working group to implement these proposals.