Collins’ Corner upgrade ‘could be catalyst’ for town investment

Collins’ Corner upgrade ‘could be catalyst’ for town investment

11 September 2019

THE start of work on a £300,000 road improvement scheme at Collins’ Corner in Downpatrick must be the start of wider investment in addressing town centre congestion, according to a senior politician.

Cllr Dermot Curran hopes that the work to upgrade a busy junction where five roads converge will not result in the same chaos which ensued in nearby Irish Street where work on a public realm scheme took six months to complete, not three as originally planned.

The Killough Road merges with Pound Lane, Stream Street, Irish Street and St Patrick’s Avenue at the Collins’ Corner junction, with roads officials proposing to upgrade traffic signals.

It is also understood that the planned upgrade includes a new footpath along the Killough Road with hopes to include a new left turn at the bottom of Pound Lane. 

The upgrade also includes the introduction of a new one-way system at Lower Stream Street which is designed to help tackle congestion at this part of the town.

Cllr Curran said he hopes that disruption will be kept to a minimum in the Collins’ Corner area which carries a huge volume of traffic at all times of the day.

The Downpatrick councillor has also reiterated his call for senior engineers from the Department for Infrastructure to sit down with local politicians to discuss the congestion issue and look at innovative ways of addressing a problem which many believe is impacting on the town’s economy.

The meeting is part of a two-pronged approach suggested by Cllr Curran, who also wants MLAs to take up the mantle and raise the issue with the government department’s permanent secretary.

He is concerned that while congestion problems in other major towns across the country have been addressed, there has been no significant progress in Downpatrick.

Roads officials have come up with what has been described as a short, medium and long term strategy to deal with the congestion issue. 

Work to widen Fountain Street to provide on-street parking and traffic calming measures has already been completed, while the £300,000 project at Collins’ Corner is underway. 

Pleased with the work in Fountain Street and Collins’ Corner, Cllr Curran believes they will not have a positive impact on town centre congestion, prompting his call to meet with senior roads engineers. 

He is also concerned that no progress is being made to tackle a congestion and road safety at Edward Street in the town.

“We need to get round the table with roads engineers and look at all options moving forward. For example, can lessons be learned from other towns which experienced similar problems or what about changing the sequencing of traffic lights in the town centre?” he asked. 

“It has been said many times that there is no quick fix solution to Downpatrick’s congestion problem and while the layout of the town may pose problems for engineers, surely it is time for some innovative thinking?”

Cllr Curran said he believes that all the key players need to get together, suggesting years of inaction has exacerbated the congestion nightmare faced by residents, businesses and visitors to the town.

He added: “It is time to forensically examine the problem and come up with ideas on the way forward. What people, in particular those in the business community want to see, is action in addressing the congestion nightmare.”