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Traffic congestion the real issue — not hospital site

THE primary reason given for opposition to the Mater hospital site for the proposed National Children’s Hospital centres on traffic congestion in Dublin 7.

The solution being proposed is to build it on another site rather than to fix the actual problem — traffic congestion. That would mean city-based children would have to battle their way through congested traffic to a hospital in the outer suburbs. For many children, that alternative is worse than the Mater.

It is the traffic issue that needs to be solved. Dublin traffic is severely affected by a complex of self-defeating policies. A good start would be to reverse some of these, starting with the toll on the Port Tunnel. It discourages traffic from availing of the tunnel, which has a low level of utilisation. That is why many thousands of vehicles going to and from the M1 (including airport traffic) travel instead through Dublin 7, with many passing within 100 yards of the Mater site. The situation is worsened by the arrangements to prevent tunnel traffic from using the Samuel Beckett bridge, obliging drivers bound for Dublin 2 to pay another toll across the Eastlink and then detour through Dublin 4.

There are other partial solutions, although they require some work. There is a disused railway cutting running under New Cabra Road and the North Circular, ideally placed for a relief road for the Dublin 7 area, at little cost.

The Phoenix Park is a huge issue, as measures have been taken to turn it into a 1,760-acre traffic-free ‘island’, with huge knock-on consequences for traffic for miles around (the Mater is little more than 2km away). Cross-traffic through the park is blocked wherever possible and the authorities refuse to widen gates that restrict traffic to a single lane.

If Phoenix Park is to be kept sacrosanct, there needs to be at least one north-south tunnel driven underneath it to relieve the enormous — and growing — traffic pressure around it.

The issue of traffic congestion, and the fruitless efforts to deal with it, affect every aspect of national life. It needs to be dealt with effectively.

John Stafford

Dargle Wood


Dublin 16


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