Traffic problems ‘significant’

Traffic problems ‘significant’

4 September 2013

DOWN District’s most senior roads official has publicly admitted that Downpatrick suffers from a “significant” traffic congestion problem.

Kevin’s Monaghan’s admission came during a special briefing with local politicians last week when he revealed proposals are continuing to be developed to introduce a one-way system in the town centre.

His honest assessment of the logjam gripping Downpatrick’s retail heart has been warmly welcomed by Down councillors who have vowed to do all they can to work with the Roads Service to secure money to tackle the congestion issue.

Previous roads bosses have not been as forthright in their assessment of the congestion issue and local politicians are keen to move forward in partnership with the Roads Service to finally crack the problem.

Mr. Monaghan said the key to providing a new one-way system is the creation of a new road linking Irish Street and St. Patrick’s Avenue. The suggested route is through the current PSNI base and car park at the rear.

The roads official said engineers have been working on some traffic modelling and are confident the creation of the new road as part of a partial or major one-way scheme would work.

Mr. Monaghan also revealed the Roads Service has experienced problems accessing the current PSNI site to carry out detailed survey work.

He said roads officials have been informed that for “security reasons,” the PSNI’s estate management and security branches could not provide access to the Irish Street base while it’s still in use.

Councillors were also told that the Roads Service is “committed” to providing the new link road once the PSNI relocates its operation to a new district command headquarters currently under construction at the Downshire Civic Centre.

Mr. Monaghan continued: “I am clear in my mind that there is a significant traffic congestion problem in Downpatrick. The Roads Service is doing its best to resolve this and is proposing the new road linking Irish Street and St. Patrick’s Avenue.

“As a result of the changes of traffic and the relocation of various agencies to the Downshire Civic Centre, we have also revisited the traffic study commissioned for the town centre and this exercise was completed recently. One of the decisions the Roads Service is going to have to make is if it wants to introduce a one-way system in Edward Street.”

Welcoming the Roads Service admission that Downpatrick has a significant traffic congestion problem, councillor Cadogan Enright said tackling the problem is one of a number of strategic issues that need to be addressed across the district.

Councillor Dermot Curran said traffic congestion is “blighting” Downpatrick town centre, hampering the economy and contributing to shop closures.

He added: “The congestion issue is getting worse but we can’t put a one-way system in place if there is no money to deliver it. It is up to this council to help the Roads Service deliver this scheme. We need to work alongside it to make that happen.”