The National Roads Authority (NRA) and Longford County Council have come under fire for not doing enough to address traffic congestion problems at one of Longford town’s busiest junctions.
Cllr Paul Connell questioned a recent decision taken by local authority bosses to close off the entrance to St Mel’s Cathedral car park from the Ballinalee Road.
He said the build up in traffic flow had deteriorated to such an extent that the situation now presented a serious risk to both motorists and pedestrians.
“This (Cathedral junction) is a priority for Longford, it’s a national primary route coming into the town and still it gives way to traffic coming from the Dublin Road. It must be the only primary route in the country that does that.”
The indepenent councillor also hit out at senior NRA officials, saying the independent state body had so far failed to provide sufficent support to council executives.
“Earlier in the year we had a meeting with the NRA and they said where health and safety issues arose they would assist Longford Co Council. This is a health and safety issue as there are two or three schools nearby. They (NRA) said they would have people come down and liase with the council, but so far that hasn’t happened.”
A spokesperson from the NRA played down those comments however when contacted by the Leader, insisting the authority was in contact on a “regular basis” with Longford County Council’s engineering department.
Cllr Connell, however, added a meeting held with engineers from both town and county councils over the past few weeks had failed to broker any lasting resolution.
Cllr Connell insisted must be addressed before the N5 by-pass is completed.
“I am not an engineer. What we need are proposals to deal with this. As I see it, if they (engineers) were using the junction often enough they would see the problems for themselves,” he said.
For their part, Longford County Council this week issued an apology to motorists for any inconvenience caused, but said present measures undertaken had been taken to improve all round road safety.
“The Cathedral junction is an extremely busy and difficult road junction which is used extensively by vehicles, school-goers and pedestrians.
“Longford Co Council is at present examining ways to improve the junction with a view to improving safety for all road users,” a statement outlined on Monday. “The Council has recently introduced a number of measures on a trial basis to improve road safety and to assess the effect on traffic at this location. The Ballinalee road entrance to the carpark in front of the Cathedral has been closed on a temporary basis to prevent it from being used as a shortcut for vehicles accessing the Dublin Road from St. Mel’s Road. In addition, the carpark exit onto the Dublin Rd has been widened. The Council will monitor these measures on an ongoing basis and will consider if the current measures should be retained and/or if further measures may be required.”
In the meantime, road reconstruction and resurfacing works are expected to begin on May 28 from the Cathedral to Springlawn junctions, lasting a total of ten weeks.
The road itself will remain partially open until June 18 before a closure notice is served until July 20 (for four weeks).