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LATELY, when asked to justify the extraordinary high cost and necessity of Ireland’s network of motorways, Transport Minister Noel Dempsey said they would be “a lasting legacy for the next 50 to 100 years”.
If such ridiculous claims are the prevailing wisdom in the Department of Transport, we are all in for massive energy and mobility shocks in the years ahead. Does he and others behind these grandiose tarmac plans realise we are now playing a dangerous endgame as regards future oil supplies and higher energy costs?
Do they understand the meaning of the words “finite”, “non-renewable” or “fixed quantity”. Apparently not.
Such deluded and dishonest pronouncements do not focus minds on the impending and inevitable end of the oil age and the high noon at the filling stations that lies ahead of us in the not too distant future. A trip up or down any of these inter-urban, Soviet-style mega roads would leave you in awe, if you were a Lego or Meccano geek. But hey, where are the cars – all 50,000-to-80,000 of them these roads were built for? A conservative estimate would put traffic volumes at about 10% of capacity on these motorways at the moment, except near some cities, where commuter traffic might bring volumes up to 30% maximum capacity usage.
The question will soon arise as to what are we going to do with all these under-utilised equivalents of Anglo Irish Bank in tarmac? Can we retrofit them for high-speed electric rail or will we just leave them, similar to the Pyramids in Egypt, to the sands of time?
As Minister Dempsey says, there will be a physical legacy of motorways in Ireland 50 or 100 years from now. They will be called “ghost roads”.
Geology will see to that.
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