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COMMENT: Who will save us from ‘Carmageddon’?

Monday, 27th November, 2017 7:59am

Story by Tony McCullagh
COMMENT: Who will save us from ‘Carmageddon’?

PHOTO: Taken from ‘Dublin: The View from Above’ by Dennis Horgan

COMMENT: Who will save us from ‘Carmageddon’?

PHOTO: Taken from ‘Dublin: The View from Above’ by Dennis Horgan

WHILE looking through some old photos of Dublin city centre recently, I was struck by how little the streetscape has changed over the past few decades.

Just take O’Connell Street, for example. The trams of yesteryear have been replaced by a sleek, modern-day equivalent in the form of the Luas and the contemporary Spire dominates the skyline. 

The impressive GPO and old Clerys building still frame each side of the street, bookended by the Ambassador and O’Connell Bridge. If Nelson hadn’t got his comeuppance in 1966, it would be difficult to distinguish between old and new images of our city’s main thoroughfare.

Except for one thing – the bloody traffic. Most of Dublin’s streets haven’t got any wider since the formation of the State, yet traffic volumes have risen exponentially over the decades. Streets that were originally designed for the humble horse and cart are now clogged up with cars on a daily basis – and even more so when there is the slightest weather event (as we now like to call them).

Even battle-hardened commuters had their tolerance levels stretched to the limit during last week’s heavy rainfall, with many motorists forced to abandon their travel plans in the face of torturous tailbacks. In my own particular case, my usual 25-minute drive to the office took an hour and a half.

The M50 essentially serves Dublin as a semi-orbital route, which is all well and good if you don’t work in town. But the reality is that many people do, meaning huge volumes of motorway traffic funneling into the narrow streets of the city centre.

But it’s not just bad weather that can result in ‘Carmageddon’, as one of my colleagues dryly refers to his daily cross-city commute. Any special event can be ruined by the city’s traffic crisis. After attending the recent Ireland v Denmark game, I had plenty of time to ponder the result while stuck in my car for over an hour trying to cross the Eastlink toll bridge.

Last month, thousands of families travelled into the city centre to see the Christmas lights being switched on. However, for many, it turned into a memorable occasion for all the wrong reasons, with horror stories of hour-long queues to get out of some car parks.

If Dublin is to ever have a realistic chance of hosting major international sporting events, we need to get our act together first by providing a solution to the ongoing traffic nightmare. And as it’s not feasible to widen our streets, the only real option is to go underground.

To hold our own with cities like London or Paris, we will have to get our shovels out and start digging for our future transport needs. It’s no use having world-class stadia if we can’t get to them without running the gridlock gauntlet.

Read the digital editions of the Dublin People Northside East, Northside West & Southside here