Dundalk Municipal District councillor Sean Kelly has hit out at the findings in an interim report published by Louth County Council regarding the design of the major junction at the heart of the new redevelopment of the St Nicholas Quarter in Dundalk.
Tuesday’s March meeting of the Dundalk Municipal District, held at Town Hall, saw councillors presented with a report on the geometric design of Church Street, Bridge Street and Linenhall Street in the town. Cllr Kelly had called on the local authority to produce the report for several months citing major concerns over the traffic flow and suitability of the junction to accommodate HGVs and buses.
As part of the design which includes a new public plaza, traffic coming from Linehall Steet will soon be forced to turn left onto Church Street – and larger vehicles will have to veer across the centre line of the road into opposing traffic to complete the manoeuvre.
The report, produced by design consultants, states that such a manoeuvre by larger vehicles is ‘accepted by the Design Manual for Urban Roads and Streets’. It states: ‘HGVs turning south must cross the centre line into the opposing traffic lane to use the full extent of the carriageway to complete the manoeuvre. This movement of larger vehicles is accepted by Design Manual for Urban Roads and Streets.’
The report also stated that designing a layout that would keep HGV and other large vehicle types in he nearside lane would require more space than currently available. ‘Providing a layout which would contain large HGVs within the nearside traffic lane would require significantly more road space increasing traffic speeds and reducing the space available to the civic plaza which diminishes the objective of the scheme,’ the report read.
Fianna Fáil Cllr Kelly, who earlier in the meeting had called the issue “an ongoing debacle”, hit out at the findings of the report after the meeting, saying it lacked a common sense approach to the problem at hand.
“So what this report is effectively saying [is] let’s keep vehicles veering into the opposing lane causing serious safety concerns and let’s keep the traffic delays in both directions so that we save a few feet of footpath on the plaza. Where exactly is the common sense in that?”
“The report is not recommending anything at the moment,” Director of Services Frank Pentony told the meeting. He said that a safety audit would be conducted upon completion of the project, with a further audit to be undertaken four weeks later.
Pentony said that an engineer would be made available to speak to councillors at the next meeting to answer questions they may have. “I know that’s not what you want to hear, but that’s what it is.”
Cllr Marianne Butler, chairing the meeting in place of Fine Gael’s John McGahon, did not allow any further discussion on the matter during the meeting, saying it would be more appropriate to allow members to read the report in full and discuss again in April’s meetings.