Tuesday, November 01, 2005

The Transport 21 Plan

The Irish Government has released its 10 year plan for improving the transportation network in Ireland, they have called it Transport 21 (I've no idea where the 21 comes from).

'Transport 21' is targeting an integrated transport system for Dublin which will include seven new LUAS projects, two Metro lines, DART extensions and an underground station at St Stephen's Green integrating all services.

Newstalk 106 said that the DART would be extended to Gorey and Drogheda, so much for the Dublin Area part of D.A.r.t. :-) . In general it seems like a good plan, assuming they can deliver it on time, on budget and on spec. Given the governments previous track record I would seriously doubt they will.

One thing really worries me and I think is worth highlighting is the role St Stephen's Green will play in the plans for Dublin. They plan to run a metro line from St Stephen's Green out to Swords and the Airport, and to link the LUAS and the Metro all they plan to build an underground station at St Stephen's Green.

The St Stephen's Green area is one of the most high value commercial areas in Dublin with some of the highest ground rents in Europe. You can bet they are not going to be knocking any buildings around there. Some construction work has been under way for several years to the south of the Green at the far end of Harcourt Street, but that would be a little isolated from the city center and it is also unlikely that the developers would switch from building office blocks to building a Metro/LUAS station. I've searched online but can't find any official report about where this would be located. So the only place I can see to put a station is under the Green itself.

That wont go down well (no pun intended) as the Green is one of the most popular and historic landmarks in Dublin. Every summer it is full or tourists and Dubliners enjoying the little good weather we get. Personally I would be conflicted, I like the idea of a city center transport hub but I don't want to see the Green destroyed, even if it was replaced with a new park that covered the new station it would be many decades before a new park would reach the same level of maturity.

Also I'm not convinced that St Stephen's Green is the best place to start a metro line to the airport at all. Being at the far side of the city center and the other side of the river would seem like factors that should rule it out. The O'Connell Street area would be far more logical, especially if they interconnected the LUAS tram lines so people could easily get from St Stephen's Green to the Metro.

Anyway why am I worried, it'll probably never happen, they will spend a few hundred million on feasibility studies and designs then realise the price has doubled so they will shelve half the projects, take 20 years to build the other half and then decide its no longer suitable and announce a new 10 year plan that will include all the things they shelved at the start.

Update: Yep, its going under the Green. Eamon Ryan of the Green Party is on Newstalk 106 and thinks this is a great idea, though he's worried about how long it will take and he estimated it would be a hole the size of a football pitch in the Green for several years. I think that would involve most if not all of the Green being destroyed, especially when you consider that the builders would need space to park their equipment.

Update 2: The 6pm news on Newstalk just said that St Stephens Green would be truned into a "Civic Space" with LUASs overground and Metros below. Hmmm, I smell concrete.

Update 3: The 21 stands for "21st Century" (which is probably how long the government will take to complete it).

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