A draft report by the National Transport Authority (NTA) has concluded that much of the traffic currently passing through Dublin city centre should be directed elsewhere.
However, while elements of the draft received popular support in Dublin, the city council’s senior traffic engineers say that they had not been consulted when the NTA drew up the proposal which they say "might never see the light of day."
The City Centre Transport Assessment Study, described as the most comprehensive of its kind yet, proposes major changes, chiefly in College Green which it says is plagued by “bus congestion, overcrowded bus stops and cluttered narrow footpaths”.
It suggests the complete exclusion of private traffic from College Green, turning its southern half into a pedestrian plaza and introducing bus-only lanes in either direction on its north side, beside the Bank of Ireland building.
To facilitate the ongoing works to extend the Luas Cross City tramline, which will eventually run through College Green, the report proposes that the area's current peak-hour bus frequency be extended outside of rush hour.
The study says that the public should have greater pedestrian access to College Green and be allowed to "enjoy some of the best of Dublin’s architectural heritage in comfort and space”.
The study also recommends a "pedestrian-friendly space" for Christchurch, at the end of Dame St/Lord Edward St, an area which includes some of Dublin's premier tourist attractions such as Christchurch Cathedral, Dublin Castle, the Chester Beatty Library and the Dublinia Viking visitor centre.
However Michael Phillips, director of traffic and city engineer, told The Irish Times that the council had no intention of eliminating private traffic from the areas suggested in the NTA report. “We are very conscious that the car shopper is as important as other modes of transport,” Phillips said. “To keep retail viable in the city centre, what we need to ensure is that there is a balance between all modes of transport.”