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July 18 2017 3:11 PM
Ireland's transport network is creaking at the seams due to lack of investment, engineers warned.
Bottlenecks are affecting daily life, with Dublin ranked in the top 20 most congested cities in the world, a report from Engineers Ireland said.
It takes rush-hour commuters in the capital almost twice as long to negotiate the traffic and the government needs to create a centralised organisation for addressing years of public under-spending, the professional organisation said.
Its report added: "The lack of investment over a period of many years has resulted in a transport network that is creaking at the seams."
The Government has said it will invest an additional 500 million euro in infrastructure in each of the years from 2019 to 2021.
Engineers Ireland, which has 23,000 members, called for the establishment of a single infrastructure unit as soon as possible to ensure effective delivery and long-term return on this investment.
It said a lack of capital investment over the past few years, specifically in land transport, has resulted in bottlenecks and congestion which are beginning to impact on the day-to-day lives of people.
The report said d evelopment of Dublin's Metro North and the M20 Cork to Limerick motorway must be accelerated.
It called for M50 variable speed limits and multi-point tolling to tackle around the capital's ring road and construction of the Eastern Bypass to alleviate traffic queues on the M50 at peak times.
Other recommendations included:
:: Communications infrastructure needs to be supported by stringent service levels - broadband should be considered an essential service similar to electricity and water
:: A National Broadband Plan (NBP) contract should be awarded without further delay, creating 2,600 direct and indirect jobs.
:: The development of the Internet of Farm will support prosperity of the rural-agri sector.
:: Water supply and wastewater infrastructure showed an improvement from last year.
:: Deploying a fully operational eHealth platform could benefit economy by over 1 billion euro.
The president of Engineers Ireland, Dr Kieran Feighan, said: "As things stand, planning and delivery in these areas (like housing and transport) are spread across Government departments, each competing for finite funding, with multiple layers of decision-making and little central oversight.
"A single infrastructure unit, as in the UK and Switzerland, could work collaboratively with external experts (such as engineers, planners and economists) to identify priority infrastructure projects as part of an integrated and long-term vision, speed up project delivery, and explore innovative financing and funding mechanisms."