Cllr Duncan Smith
By-Election candidate for Dublin Fingal

Submission Bus Rapid Transit “Swiftway”

Issued : Friday 28 November, 2014

As a local Councillor for Swords and resident of the Castleview Estate, I submitted my concerns and objections in respect of the proposed Swiftway Bus Rapid Transit – Swords/ Airport to City Centre, with particular emphasis upon the selected emerging preferred route for the BRT from the R132 at the Estuary Roundabout through the Glen Ellan Road to the proposed terminus in Oldtown. The views and concerns outlined below are a reflection of a consultation process I engaged in with my fellow residents in North West Swords in particular over the past number of weeks.

I knocked on doors, dropped information leaflets and requested views to be sent to me via email and social media in order to gauge as wide a view as possible of local people to this proposal. A number of concerns and objections were raised and I would ask that they be taken on board by the NTA in respect of the Bus Rapid Transit (hereafter Swiftway) proposal.

Submission Bus Rapid Transit “Swiftway”

To whom it may concern,

As a local Councillor for Swords and resident of the Castleview Estate, I wish to submit my concerns and objections in respect of the proposed Swiftway Bus Rapid Transit – Swords/ Airport to City Centre, with particular emphasis upon the selected emerging preferred route for the BRT from the R132 at the Estuary Roundabout through the Glen Ellan Road to the proposed terminus in Oldtown. The views and concerns outlined below are a reflection of a consultation process I engaged in with my fellow residents in North West Swords in particular over the past number of weeks.

I knocked on doors, dropped information leaflets and requested views to be sent to me via email and social media in order to gauge as wide a view as possible of local people to this proposal. A number of concerns and objections were raised and I would ask that they be taken on board by the NTA in respect of the Bus Rapid Transit (hereafter Swiftway) proposal.

 

(1)   Parking impact at Gaelscoil Brian Boroimhe and Swords Educate Together.

 

At present, the necessity is for many parents to drive to either primary school in order to leave and collect their children. There are approximately 900 pupils attending these two schools and there is on-street parking for approximately 50 cars at present. Parents currently park long the existing road and walk their children the rest of the way into the respective schools. Parents themselves admit this is not ideal, however the Swiftway proposal as it is currently constituted would wholly remove this option without providing any alternative for parking or set down facility. This would leave parents with no option to bring their children to school except for private bus hire which is not an option for many. Swiftway itself would not provide an alternative for parents as many of them live outside the immediate vicinity of North West Swords with many pupils coming from all over Swords, rural villages such as Ballyboughal and Rowlestown and Donabate. It is not satisfactory to state that the parking consideration of the school is not within the remit of the Swiftway proposal. A project of this size and scope needs to engage with all public and private bodies including schools and Local Authorities even at this preliminary stage. The absence of any parking plan for the school patrons is major problem and a ground for objection to the current proposal.

 

(2)   Widening of the Glen Ellan Road

 

The existing proposal would necessitate the widening of the existing Glen Ellan Road from two lanes to four lanes, with the two outside lanes dedicated to the Swiftway and public transport vehicles. This element of the proposal is central to its impact on our community in North West Swords. The Glen Ellan Road is the primary road connecting the estates of North West Swords. It is a well landscaped road and is lined with semi mature trees. For a community that is still relatively new, this road is a positive aspect and shared link which we all use on a daily basis as our primary ingress and egress to our area. Crucially, it is in proportion with the surrounding area in its width and associated landscaping. The preferred route selected for this section of the BRT is also in breach of the Local Area Plans Strategic Vision and Development Strategy for the Glen Ellan Road, in particular in respect of Section 3.2 ‘Movement and Strategy and Transportation Infrastructure’, where section 3.2.5 ‘Glen Ellan Main Street’ of the LAP for the Glen Ellan Road. The LAP objective is for 6m carriageway, with cycle facilities, 4, wide footpaths and 1.5m wide tree lined verges. The Swiftway proposal is contains a 13m wide carriageway with 2m wide shared cycle facilities, 2m wide footpaths and the removal of the tree lined verge, which is most important to the visual aspect of this central road. Section 6.3.2 of the route options assessment report references the LAP, it then proceeds to disregard the requirements and objectives of the LAP without taking into account its constraint upon the proposed scheme. The impact on the Glen Ellan Road is invasive and would be out of proportion to the community it serves. It is a major ground for concern and objection to this proposal.

 

 

(3)   Ingress and Egress for existing estates along the Glen Ellan Road

We currently experience problems exiting estates, particularly at peak times and school times, due to the existing high volume of traffic. In the current proposal, many access points for estates, including Castleview, Bride’s Glen, Bunbury Gate, South Bank, Glen Ellan and Sandford Wood, would be altered without due provision for traffic management at these points. The crossing of a dedicated Swiftway bus lane, before joining the regular traffic lane, without clear traffic management signals is a real safety concern for residents.

(4)   Altering of boundary walls for existing estates

 

The proposal as it stands would necessitate the “pushing back” of existing estate boundary walls by varying amounts depending on estates. This would negatively impact on open, green spaces in the existing estates such as Castleview, Bunbury Gate, Bride’s Glen, Glen Ellan and Sandford Wood. Currently, the green space behind the boundary walls, give some manner of distance from the existing road. However, not only would the road become wider, and traffic frequencies become greater and louder, there would be less space between homes and this noise/traffic. This is a particular problem for the estates mentioned above and highlighted below:

 

  • In Sandford Wood, the road would come perilously close to existing houses which are currently closer to the GE Road than any other home or building. According to the plans, the swiftway buses would be travelling within feet of this house. It would be too close to this house.
  • In Glen Ellan, the ribbon of green space at Glen Ellan Park is already at a steep gradient sloping downwards to the existing boundary wall. Any further pushing back of this wall would make the existing slope even steeper and essentially rendering it useless as a green space for amenity or children’s play.
  • In Bunbury Gate, Bride’s Glen and Castleview, the pushing back of the boundary wall would remove large tracts of the existing green space with houses on Castleview Lawns for example having no green space at all between their front door and the GE Road (these houses do not have a front garden so the existing green space in front of the boundary wall is extra important to retain).

 

(5)   The closing of Jugback Lane to vehicular traffic

 

The closing of vehicular traffic to Jugback Lane cannot be implemented without due regard to the St Finian’s Community School. Whilst the existing junction is not ideal, the intersection between Jugback Lane and the Glen Ellan Road provides a vital release valve for school traffic. Focus should be placed upon improving it and making it safer for vehicles and pedestrians. The closing off of this junction would mean there was only one vehicle access point to St Finian’s CS (from the South through Watery Lane). There are no turning points on Jugback Lane so school-time traffic would go from being very busy, to being chaotic. This would have knock on effects to traffic on Watery Lane and the Rathbeale Road, both very important commercial roads for Swords.

 (6)   Skate Park in Balheary Park

 

The Swiftway proposal as it currently stands would necessitate the removal of the Skate Park in Balheary Park. The Skate Park is a very important piece of social infrastructure which provides a positive focus for activity for many young people in Swords and the surrounding areas. The lack of certainty regarding where this Skate Park would be moved to is extremely worrying and further grounds for objection. There is concern from many users of the facility, which has not been assuaged by any existing element within the proposal, that the Skate Park would be removed and that at best there would be a significant delay in it being placed in another location close by or worse, that it would not be replaced at all. The Skate Park is too important a facility for there to be no certainty regarding its future and this is another grounds for objecting to the proposal as it currently stands.

Conclusion

The public transport deficit in Swords needs to be tackled and I as a commuter myself understand that. I am in favour of improved bus networks however, only in the cases when those operate on existing roads and serve as wide an area as possible ie all of Swords including outlying estates such as Knocksedan which at present receive no bus service whatsoever either public or private. The need for dedicated lanes for a Swiftway service is understandable for the main arterial roads into Dublin City Centre such as the R132, M1, and Airport Road through Drumcondra. However it is not appropriate,  in keeping or needed for the residential neighbourhood of North West Swords and those estates which border the Glen Ellan Road. A Swiftway Service or light rail service to serve Swords through the main arterial road networks and corridors and which could be accessed by foot and public bike scheme by commuters would be more adequate and would not impact on any residential community in such an invasive way.  

I trust his submission will be taken in good faith and its contents are considered as constructive points against the proposal as it currently stands.

Yours sincerely,

___________________

Cllr Duncan Smith

Cllr Duncan SmithBy-Election candidate for Dublin Fingal


Constituency:
Ireland - Dublin : Dublin Fingal : Swords
Home Address:
Castleview Close,
Swords
Co Dublin
Tel:
+353879862686
Email:
Website:
https://duncansmith.ie
Social:
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@CllrDuncanSmith

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