BANTRY had a bumper tourism season in more ways than one – the number of tourists were up but so were the tailbacks.
Cllr Danny Collins (Ind) raised the gridlock issue at a recent meeting of the West Cork Municipal District in Bantry saying: ‘Cork County Council and Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) need to resolve the traffic problems at Glengarriff Road and in the town centre.’
The councillor said: ‘There is no doubt about it, Bantry had a mighty summer but we had a terrible problem with traffic congestion, including three-quarter hour traffic jams in the town centre.’
The councillor asked: ‘What would have happened if there was a fire, or some other emergency? Because there was no way anyone could have got through the town at those times.’
He said he was tabling a motion on the subject to prompt Council planners and the TII to find a creative solution before the roads are dug up to replace old drains – a project that is a year or two in the offing. He even suggested ‘taking away some of the square to make traffic flow more freely in the town centre.’
Cllr Mary Hegarty (FG) made the point that there is now a lot more money being spent in local government and that the time had come to dust off the proposals – which were first made in 1973 – to create a relief road around the town.
‘It is ridiculous,’ she said, ‘to see heavy traffic, especially the articulated trucks on their way to Beara, trying to negotiate narrows streets, like Marino Street. The time has come to press ahead with the relief road and to devise a new traffic management plan for Bantry.’
The area engineer, Ruth O’Brien, confirmed that some of the groundwork has already been done in this regard.
She informed the Council members that the compulsory purchase orders have been finalised; the Council’s P8 planning requirement is in place; and an application for funding for the proposed relief road has been submitted to the Rural Regeneration Fund.