Tuesday, 20 February 2018
My Commencement matter concerns a slip road onto the M1 at Donabate. The villages of Donabate and Portrane are situated on a peninsula in north County Dublin and have a combined population of approximately 9,000. There is significant ongoing development and approximately 4,000 new housing units are planned in the not too distant future. The construction of the national forensic hospital on the St. Ita's Hospital site is well under way and it is thought it will be operational at the start of 2020. Over 500 staff will be employed in the new hospital.
The largest building in Ireland is the Tesco distribution centre in Donabate. It measures 78,000 sq. m in size on a 40 acre site. Over 1,000 employees are based at the distribution centre from where goods are distributed across Ireland and Europe. There is a significant volume of traffic in the area because of the centre and the large population living on the peninsula. This trend is set to continue once the national forensic hospital is fully operational and the extra 4,000 housing units are built in the area.
Around the time the Tesco distribution centre was built ten years ago, it was envisaged that a slip road would be built close to it at the top of Turvey Avenue. That project should be looked at again as the slip road was not constructed at the time. There is significant pressure on the M1 slipway at Hearse Road.There are significant tailbacks there at particular pressure points. This M1 slipway off the top of Turvey Avenue, as was envisaged at the time, should be seriously considered now. As it will just be a slip road and not a bridge, the outlay will be very much contained.
Not only would the population of Donabate and Portrane benefit from this, commuters from Rush, Lusk and Skerries feeding into the current slip road onto the M1 would be diverted through this before they hit the roundabout at the top of the Hearse Road. It is a simple piece of infrastructure that would have a significant positive impact on people's lives there. Fingal County Council received €8.5 million at the time of the development of the Tesco distribution centre. That money should be used to relieve the pressure on the local population.
While speaking about the infrastructure on the peninsula, I also mention the severe lack of pedestrian footpaths and cycle lanes in the area. I welcome that the new distributor road, which has just started construction, will have cycle lanes. However, once the cyclists come off the distributor road onto the Hearse Road, they will be met by a large volume of traffic on what is in effect a country road. Cycle lanes should be introduced on the Hearse Road and around the peninsula in general. A large population now lives there without adequate footpaths for pedestrians. The lack of cycle lanes on the Hearse Road makes it very dangerous for cyclists and causes considerable tailbacks on the Hearse Road. That will intensify when the distributor road opens and when the extra population arrives on the peninsula.
The population cannot grow as rapidly as it is currently growing in the area without proper infrastructure being put in place. I appeal to the Minister to consider introducing such an M1 slipway which would have a massive impact on the area for a very small outlay. North County Dublin is the fastest growing area in the country and we need proper infrastructure.
As Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, I have responsibility for the overall policy and funding of the national roads programme. The planning, design and implementation of individual national road projects is a matter for Transport Infrastructure Ireland under the Roads Acts 1993 to 2015 in conjunction with the local authorities concerned. Within its capital budget, the assessment and prioritisation of individual projects is a matter in the first instance for TII in accordance with section 19 of the Roads Act.
Donabate is served by the M1 Lissenhall interchange which connects to the R132 and R126. A major upgrade of this interchange was completed in 2013. The improvement and maintenance of regional and local roads in the Donabate area is a statutory function of the local authority in accordance with the provisions of section 13 of the Roads Act 1993. While any proposal on the construction of an additional slip road to serve Donabate would be a matter in the first instance for Fingal County Council, as the road authority concerned, it would also need to be considered within a wider transport planning framework. In this context the National Transport Authority’s transport strategy for the greater Dublin area, GDA, sets the overarching policy framework for transport infrastructure development in the region. This strategy examines the future national, regional and local road network as part of its consideration of a strategy aimed at addressing urban congestion and improving the efficiency and sustainability of the urban transport system in the GDA.
The strategy sets out principles for road development in the GDA, including that alternative solutions such as public transport provision, traffic management or demand management measures cannot effectively and satisfactorily address the road proposal or are not applicable or appropriate together, that each proposed road scheme is consistent with the strategy and Government policy, and that each scheme does not diminish in any significant way the expected beneficial outcome of the strategy.
As part of a corridor options appraisal, the strategy considers the measures needed to meet travel demand on the economic Drogheda to Dublin city corridor. While the strategy does refer to the need for a distributor road around Donabate, it focuses primarily on public transport options and improved rail services.This is reflected in the national development plan launched last week, which makes provision for the delivery of priority elements of the DART expansion programme, including the electrification of existing lines. This is to include electrification of the rail line to Drogheda.
On the point regarding the DART expansion programme, we have heard this on numerous occasions. It was first announced in September 2015 but we are still waiting for it to happen and as such, with respect, I have to take what the Minister says with a pinch of salt. He is the Minister with responsibility for transport policy. This slip road, which was supposed to be delivered ten years ago, could be easily delivered now. I ask the Minister to review this project with a view to including it in the transport framework and to liaise on this matter with Fingal County Council and the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, Deputy Eoghan Murphy, who also has a role to play in the delivery of this slip road. North County Dublin and, in particular, Donabate, is absorbing a lot of the housing need of Dublin and we need adequate infrastructure. Along with the much-promised DART expansion, we need this slip road delivered to ease the pressure in Donabate.