HGV Ban – good idea, bad timing

There are few people unhappy to see articulated trucks out of Dublin city centre (except truck drivers). As a cyclist in town in the past I can recall moments of sheer terror when HGV’s have towered over me. Unfortunately, many cyclists have paid for this with their lives.

But rather like St Augustine’s moral tussle with the problem of chastity, it’s all in the timing. And the HGV ban has been a classic case of bad timing.

You can see the logic of the HGV ban. The tunnel has just been finished at enormous expense and it makes sense to redirect trucks through the tunnel at the earliest possible moment.

But the problem with the HGV ban isn’t with the tunnel, it’s with the M50. Hard and fast stats aren’t in yet but the redirecting of trucks out on to the already crowded M50 has been a bit of a disaster. (It’s only a bit of a disaster because the M50 was almost a complete disaster anyway).

The HGV ban should have been delayed to until a number of developments on the M50 have been completed. These include the lifting of barriers on the Westlink, the completion of freeflow junctions at the N4 (Lucan) exit and the N7 (Mad Cow) exit, and the widening of the M50.

It might not have been necessary to finish all of these projects (which will occur in the next year or two) but to throw all the trucks from Dublin Port into an already chaotic mix is ridiculous. 

At least the lorries going along the quays were dissipating the problem and perhaps a little traffic calming or alteration of ship’s timetables could have made a difference while we were waiting for some of the work on the M50 to be finished.

I pity the truck drivers and I pity the commuters whose lives have been made even more miserable.

There must be a bitter case of “I told you so” on the lips of many people who thought that the Dublin Port Tunnel should have been built from east to west in the first place. The majority of trucks using the tunnel originate from the M3, M4 and M7 corridors and the shortest route to the port would have been via a tunnel from Hueston Station to the Port. 

Many people feel there has never been a satisfactory explanation for this decision. I’m one of them. And now the trucks are pretty much parked end-to-end on the M50 for much of the day.

Of course the city centre is a better place without these monsters but as we were accustomed to the inconvenience for this long, would another year have made such a difference, especially when there were good reasons to delay the impact on the M50?

The ban isn’t going to be reversed now but some scheme of relief is necessary. Practically all of these trucks on the M50 southbound are trying to leave the Dublin area. It is in everyone’s interest that they be facilitated. I wonder if temporary Bailey bridges could be used to allow traffic heading out of Dublin direct access to the N4 and N7. During the tunnel construction such a bridge was built over the M1 at Santry. It was built in a weekend.

The disruption is costing a fortune, it is damaging business and the quality of life for all concerned. Anything that will relieve the misery should be considered.