Business owners and residents have warned of “unprecedented traffic chaos” when road closures and diversions along one of Dublin’s busiest commuter routes come into effect next week.
he “temporary” measures, effective from next Monday and lasting until March 2024, are required to facilitate significant works at Annesley Bridge and North Strand Road as part of the latest phase of the Clontarf to City Center (C2CC) project.
The €62m scheme, when completed, will provide segregated cycling facilities and bus priority infrastructure along a 2.7km stretch, from Clontarf to the junction of Amiens Street and Talbot Street.
Traffic arrangements during the works will see city-bound private vehicles diverted at Fairview Strand, down Ballybough Road and along Portland Road, before rejoining North Strand Road at the Five Lamps.
Under the plan, Annesley Bridge Road and North Strand Road will be open to inbound buses, bicycles and taxis as normal. Both roads will continue to facilitate all outbound traffic throughout the works program.
In addition, between August and the end of this year, Clontarf Road railway bridge will be reduced to one lane in each direction, with both inbound and outbound traffic funneled through one of the two arches.
Independent councilor Damian O’Farrell described some elements of the traffic plan as “unnecessary” and warned of “unprecedented commuter chaos for the next 18 months”.
“The reality of what is being proposed will really only hit home after the changes come into effect next week,” he said.
Another Independent councilor Nial Ring said he had received “a huge amount of very negative and angry feedback” from residents in North Strand and Ballybough.
“Residents are absolutely shocked, not only by the proposals, but by (the) way they were informed and the fact that this is going to be in effect for at least the next year,” he said.
Duncan Graham, managing director of Retail Excellence, said city centers had suffered the most during the pandemic and called for “a balanced approach” to the proposed scheme. “All I’m seeing at the moment is a move to put less traffic on the street, but we need to think about how we use our cities and bring people in,” he said.
Mr Graham said Retail Excellence would monitor the impact of the project on city-centre businesses.
Local businessman Damian Duggan said he was forced to call time after 42 years on his jewelery business in Fairview once work began on the proposed cycleway back in March.
Duggan Jewelers had its busiest Christmas ever in 2021, but seven months later the shutters have come down for good and the shop is now up for sale. “After three years of screaming, shouting and roaring about this project, I finally had enough of it all,” he told the Irish Independent.
“The day work started on this scheme was the day I announced my closing-down sale. If you told me six months ago that I would end up working for someone else, I would have laughed at you.”
Mr Duggan believes new traffic arrangements will have a detrimental effect on local businesses and turn Marino “into a car park and rat run”.
“Children won’t be able to go to a football match in Fairview Park because there will be no parking,” he claimed. “You won’t have access to the playground if you have three kids and a buggy and need to get there by car.”
He said he had repeatedly called for the cycleway to be routed through Fairview Park.
Dublin City Council has asked the public to use alternative modes of transport where possible. The local authority has distributed leaflets to 60,000 homes and businesses in the area and launched a dedicated project website as part of an information campaign.
Mark Crowther, chairperson of Marino Residents’ Association, said the organization had two representatives on the C2CC steering committee and were happy with the level of consultation carried out by Dublin City Council to date.
Dublin Cycling Campaign expressed support for the project, saying it will “reduce people’s dependence on private cars”.