SEVERAL of Cork’s busiest roads are operating at more than 20% above their capacity, with 30 million cars travelling the South Ring Road (N40) alone last year.
Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) has said the N40 handles 300 million kilometres of vehicle journeys each year.
They said national traffic trends have returned to economic boom levels since 2015 and predict further growth will put extra pressure on Cork’s infrastructure in its annual National Road Network Indicators report.
Several key routes into the city are experiencing extremely high traffic levels, including the N40 South Ring and the N20 to Mallow.
Several sections of the N40 Cork Southern Ring Road carry in excess of 80,000 vehicles on an average day.
The N22 to Ballyvourney to Ballincollig is also overworked for the most part.
However, the M8 to Dublin is experiencing levels below 80% of its capacity.
In terms of secondary roads, the N71 from Cork city to Skibbereen is also experiencing strain, with large sections highlighted as being overused.
The N72 from Mallow to Killarney has large stretches which are operating above 100% of capacity and even over 120% in places.
The highest hourly flow of traffic on the N40 last year was recorded from the Kinsale Road to Douglas on June 4 at 8am with 8,109 vehicles recorded as travelling through. The same stretch of motorway had the highest daily flow of 2017 on December 21 with 103,578 vehicles.
Friday is said to be the busiest day of the week for traffic in Cork, while most accidents are happening between 9am and 10am.
TII believes that Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGV) levels, in particular, will continue to rise as a boom in construction gains pace.
“Traffic volumes on National Roads are exhibiting a recovery similar to that on all roads. All traffic on National Roads has averaged 3.9% per annum over the last three years, with HGV growth at 4.8% per annum,” the report states.
“The unemployment rate of just over 6% in early 2018 indicates that there is still room for further growth in employment levels. Given these economic trends, the prospects are for continued significant growth in National Roads traffic overall and HGV traffic in particular, as building and construction sector continues to pick up,” it adds.
Tánaiste Simon Coveney told the Evening Echo in March that a light-rail plan for the city was in the works to alleviate traffic levels, while UCC President said a Luas-style system was needed from Blarney to Ballyphehane and Ballincollig.
Conor Faughnan, director of consumer affairs at the AA, believes the economic recovery in Cork will be hampered unless drivers are given alternative modes of transport and suggested seven Luas lines should be built in the city.