Release date soon for traffic scheme

Release date soon for traffic scheme

7 August 2013

A NEW blueprint aimed at tackling town centre traffic congestion in Downpatrick is expected to be made public by the autumn.

Consultants have been looking at how a number of town centre junctions can potentially be improved to not only improve traffic flow, but make them safer for pedestrians.

It’s not known at this stage if the traffic study will recommend the introduction of a new one-way system. Roads officials are keen to see such a system provided — utilising a new road linking Irish Street with St. Patrick’s Avenue — but securing the cash to deliver the new link road could prove difficult.

Confirmation that Downpatrick’s new traffic plan will be published within the next few weeks came during a meeting between South Down MP Margaret Ritchie and Stormont roads minister Danny Kennedy.

The MP highlighted the need for the town centre congestion issue to be tackled and outlined the lack of progress the Roads Service has made on the issue, despite the organisation’s “many assurances that the resolution of Downpatrick traffic congestion was a priority.”

While the MP welcomed plans to upgrade the Collins’ Corner junction where five roads converge, she said she shared the concerns of residents and traders that not enough is being done by the Roads Service to tackle the congestion problem.

She continued: “While it’s accepted that the topography of Downpatrick does not lend itself to the easy progression of traffic, residents and traders rightly demand that the Roads Service look at innovative ways to reduce traffic congestion.

“Minister Kennedy assured me that a new traffic plan for Downpatrick will be published for consultation this September and I

have urged him to ensure that direct consultation is undertaken with traders before traffic management proposals are published for consultation.”

Miss Ritchie said the DRD Minister confirmed there will be consultation with traders and representatives from the business and commercial communities.

The MP added: “I look forward to full consultation on the proposed traffic management plan and welcome this step towards a reduction in traffic congestion and await further developments.

“Traffic mitigation measures are required in order to make a contribution to the local economy, sustain and create existing jobs. Downpatrick is a centre of public administration and a heritage tourism town.”

A Roads Service spokeswoman said the study carried out by consultants examined road junctions throughout Downpatrick to identify and assess potential improvement measures to improve traffic and pedestrian movements.

She said site visits took place in June with the consultants currently developing proposals and option studies to allow Roads Service staff to give full consideration to the key findings and recommendations.

“A completed report is expected around the autumn at which point the findings and recommendations will be presented to councillors and local stakeholders,” said the spokeswoman.

“Any recommendations will be subject to full consultation with key stakeholders including local residents, legislative processes, possible land acquisitions and securing the necessary finances in future budget years.”