Dubliners turned out in force at the opening of the Frank Sherwin Bridge - but principally to familiarise themselves with the radical new traffic flows along the quays. All had changed, changed utterly and the next day was Monday!
At 8.30 a.m. on Sunday, August 29, 1982, an A team of Corporation workers descended upon the city, quietly and efficiently closing the quays to all vehicles and expertly setting the scene to accommodate the reversal of the traffic flow. Under the eyes of curious, early morning gazers, they unveiled 300 new traffic signs, inaugurated nine new traffic islands and fifteen minutes later gave their blessing to the first motorists to try the new system.
Miraculously, or so it seemed, the traffic lights immediately synchronised with the new arrangement. In truth, the switchover had involved the computerisation of all the traffic lights within the city centre. There was some initial confusion, scratching of heads and wagging of fingers as motorists wove their way up and down the quays and around and about the six and a half miles of city streets which were affected by the changeover. They crossed and recrossed the Frank Sherwin Bridge, initiating it into the complex web of the Dublin streetscape.
It was hoped that the opening of the bridge and the new traffic flow arrangements would cut travel time for the tens of thousands of commuters using the bridge daily. In addition to the cost of the bridge itself, IR£200,000 was invested by Dublin Corporation in readying the city streets and the beleaguered motorist for the change - traffic on the north quays now flowed eastwards towards the docklands, then undeveloped and rundown, and travel was now in a westerly direction on the south quays. The appliance of the relatively new science of urban traffic management dictated that ‘conflict points’ where opposing traffic flows cross each other, should be reduced to a minimum.
The Frank Sherwin Bridge was a pivot of the new traffic arrangements and motorists sighed in collective relief as typical twenty five minute crawls along Dublin’s quays were noticeably reduced. Frank Sherwin would have been most happy to be at the very centre of it all!