Majority of lorry drivers avoiding new port tunnel

A MAJORITY of heavy goods vehicles are continuing to avoid using the new toll-free Dublin Port Tunnel.

Yesterday, hundreds of lorry drivers exiting Dublin Port again opted to take the alternative route along the quays and through Dublin city centre.

It is estimated that only 40% of large trucks leaving and entering the port are using the €751 million tunnel which opened on Wednesday

However, the large number of heavy goods vehicles choosing to divert through the city centre did not create the same level of traffic congestion in the port as the previous day.

There was no repeat of the long tailbacks which caused major delays 24 hours earlier due to traffic lights giving priority to vehicles using the 4.5km tunnel. The situation was helped by quieter traffic volumes due to the Christmas holidays.

Although designed to provide lorries accessing Dublin Port with speedy access to the M1 and M50 for connections to the rest of the country, it appears many drivers still prefer to use the traditional route along the Liffey quays in order to avoid congestion on the M50, which is also subject to major roadworks.

It is also believed that lorry drivers travelling to the south and west are still choosing to drive through the city centre in order to avoid paying the toll on the Westlink bridge.

The Irish Road Haulage Association (IRHA) expressed surprise that most truck drivers still appeared to be using city centre routes and avoiding the tunnel.

However, IRHA spokesperson Jimmy Quinn said he was confident that an increasing number of heavy goods vehicles would use it as drivers familiarised themselves with the new road layout at the port.

From February 19 next, vehicles will not have an option as Dublin City Council will introduce a ban on large lorries driving through the city centre to access Dublin Port. Only delivery vehicles with a special permit will be allowed in the city between 7am and 7pm from that date.

Meanwhile, Dublin City Council said traffic volumes on access roads to the port have fallen significantly since the opening of the tunnel.

The local authority reported that a total of 2,493 trucks used the tunnel between midnight and midday yesterday.

It claimed there was a 66% reduction in traffic along the East Wall road in the direction of the port, with a 38% reduction on the North Wall. Other large decreases in the volume of heavy goods vehicles were also reported on other important access routes such as Sean Moore Road, Arran Quay and Essex Quay.

The tunnel will remain closed to cars until late January. Dublin City Council will also continue to close it between 11pm and 4.30am for several more weeks in order to fine tune the tunnel’s operating systems.

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