This is the season of good cheer. Time to be nice to those with whom you can’t normally agree. So I say: well done to the Progressive Democrats on their new plan for Dublin.
The plan is to move Dublin Port out of the city and extend the present city into the port area. Simple, really.
Of course, it’s not really new. Before the tunnel was built, many people said that the port should have been moved instead. At the time it just looked too costly and too much trouble.
But that was ten years ago. The amount of goods coming through the port has just exploded. In 1994, when we were still arguing about the tunnel, the port handled less than 10 million tonnes of goods. This year some 25 million tonnes have passed through Dublin Port.
Even the Dublin Port Company think this type of expansion is unsustainable. How do we know? Because they want to fill in part of the bay to make more room.
But as the PDs point out something else has changed in the last ten years. The price of building land has skyrocketed. The port is probably worth around €30 billion. Even in a town where you can pay €4 for a measly portion of jumped-up Latin American powder (no, I mean coffee), €30 billion is quite a lot of money.
Allied to that is the need to end our urban sprawl which is, without exaggeration, beginning to destroy quality of life in Dublin. We need physically tight-knit communities who could live their lives without cars and where most of the things they need to access will be within walking distance. The port lands would give us just the right space to create such a new city.
At the same time, the roads around Dublin are choked with traffic. The tunnel will be great but all the trucks will be coming out on to the M50, already one of the world’s great car spotting locations (no blur to contend with).
The plan is to move to Bremore Harbour in North Dublin (where it will undoubtedly be given a great welcome by the locals). Anyway, the idea would be to tie it in to the end of the new Dublin outer ringroad, thus providing easy access to the rest of the country without bothering the hard-pressed motorists of Dublin.
So it’s sort of neat. But is it realistic? Well, it can’t be done overnight, that’s for sure. But in the long-term is it possible that we can have a huge port right in the heart of the city? If not, then it’s time we started planning to move it now.
The unspoken new route for the Luas
The possible new routes to join up the Luas have been announced. All but one. The underground one.
The city centre Luas lines are at capacity. The key to providing a decisive change from cars to public transport has always been to provide capacity in the city centre.
This requires the building of two or three tunnels where Luas lines from around the city could be plugged into.
The overground Luas has changed bugger all – at great expense. I’m an unreformed advocate of the underground option. Our day will come.