By Kieran O’Mahony
A BANDON-based councillor has said that she’s surprised someone wasn’t knocked down on the northern side of the town, due to the volumes of traffic that were diverted near the Copper Grove bar in recent weeks, when Emmet Row was closed to facilitate works on the main drainage scheme.
Cllr Gillian Coughlan (FF) made the comment when discussing the T-PREP (Transportation and Public Realm Enhancement Plan) for Bandon at a recent meeting of Bandon Kinsale Municipal District.
Cllr Coughlan said the T-PREP plan is a wonderful document for Bandon with really positive proposals that will rejuvenate the town.
However, she said that there are aspects of it that have to be managed. ‘The model for traffic management on the northside of the town was actually in play in recent weeks. Emmet Row was closed – which is being proposed by the T-Prep Plan – and I vehemently opposed this. All the traffic from the west was coming into Copper Grove and was leading to significant traffic delays,’ said Cllr Coughlan.
‘It’s a wonder someone has not been knocked down at 4pm in the afternoon, with hundreds of school children gathering there. Traffic was backed up and business owners and residents are up in arms.’
Cllr Coughlan said that the traffic model cannot be sustained in the long-term and called for a full northern by-pass to be completed, rather than ‘half a one’.
With a section of Dunmanway Road set to close in the next few days there will be more traffic lights and diversions in place on the northern side of the town.
Senior executive engineer Charlie McCarthy said that there is going to be a detailed design process for the northern relief road. He pointed out that the southern relief road is being developed by Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) and that both relief roads for the town are very independent of each other at this stage.
‘There has been no decision to prioritise one over the other, and I think the hope and the plan is to develop both of them as quickly as possible,’ he said.
However, Cllr Kevin Murphy (FG) questioned ‘where in God’s name will Cork County Council get the money’ for the northern relief road and also he wondered would it get precedence over the southern relief road?
Mr McCarthy said that the southern relief road is part of the N71, which is a national route and the funding source would be through TII, while the northern relief road would be a regional road and would come from funding from the Department of Transport.
Cllr Coughlan said that Bandon hasn’t had significant infrastructure investment for over 40 years and that the southern relief road was started over 30 years ago and that there has been no money spent since. However, Cllr Murphy pointed out that it was only built in 1999.
‘The north side of Bandon does need relief as it’s been developed at an exponential rate and there are huge choke points at Convent Hill for example, and it’s unsustainable. It’s really important that both relief roads are developed and the national government should have released the money for the completion of the southern relief road 20 years ago,’ said Cllr Coughlan.
‘I welcome the northern relief road but it needs to be done correctly so that the residential part of the town does not suffer.’
A community group called ‘Bandon Road Safety’ was set up by concerned residents who held a meeting back in Septembeer in Copper Grove to highlight concerns about the traffic situation on the northside of the town and it called for a full northern relief road to be completed.
Meanwhile, Bandon Business Association (BBA) held a meeting with various stakeholders this week. to highlight their frustration with traffic issues in the town.
Chair of BBA Hilary Farrell said that the contractors, Ward & Burke, have made a commitment to improve signage and traffic management in the town.
‘It was a very positive meeting and it was decided that a multi-agency meeting should be held every two to three months going forward,’ she added.