21 Jan 2022

Councillors have narrowly voted to approve a €2m safety works scheme on one of Donegal’s busiest roads

Warning of traffic chaos in Letterkenny

Councillors have narrowly voted to approve a €2m safety works scheme on one of the Donegal’s busiest roads

Councillors have voted to approve a €2m safety work scheme on the N56 in Letterkenny between the Polestar and Dry Arch roundabouts.

Donegal County Councillors have narrowly voted to approve a €2m safety works scheme on one of the county’s busiest roads.

The council voted by 12 votes to 11 at Monday’s meeting of the council to approve a safety improvement scheme at the N56 in Letterkenny between the Polestar roundabout and the Dry Arch roundabout.

The work is expected to last ten months, but councillors expressed fears the time-period could be longer.

The stretch of road has seen a number serious accidents in recent years which led to calls for safety measures to be put in place.

However, some councillors called for the work to be delayed for 12 months because of the impact that it will have on traffic congestion in the town and on local businesses.

Councillors cited the example of the impact of roads works in the Kiltoy area this year.

Councillors also pointed out that if the work goes ahead, the road could face disruption again in the future because of Irish Water’s plans to bring a water connection from Inishowen to Manorcunningham into Carnamuggagh in Letterkenny.

Cllr Liam Blaney (FF) said he feared the work will have a hugely damaging effect on the 35,000 vehicles that use the road daily and businesses, both in the immediate area and in Letterkenny as a whole.

“I believe it will have a high impact on the amount of tailbacks and jams. The ratepayers will have to put up with a lot of frustration. This will have a huge economic effect on the ratepayers of this county . I think it will enhance the road but at this moment in time it is premature.”

Cllr James Pat McDaid (FF) echoed the views, saying he had “huge reservations” about the work going ahead at this time.

A new speed limit of 80 kmph is to be introduced on the road with signage expected to go up very soon. Fianna Fáil councillor , Paul Canning, called for the council to allow the new speed limit a period to bed-in before the work was commenced to see if that brings an improvement to the safety of the road.

The council’s director of services for roads and transportation, John McLaughlin, said the issues on the road were caused by the propensity of vehicles to cross white lines and make right turns.

“This is a safety scheme, this is about safety,” he said. “There is a high propensity for crossovers and head-on collisions.  When there is an accident, as we have seen, it is entirely shut down, and that is far, far worse than any construction.”

Independent councillor , Michael McBride, one of those who called for the work to go ahead, said that while there will be disruption, the work was necessary.

“I believe we will have to suffer the pain in short time to reap the benefits in the long term.”

Cllr Jimmy Kavanagh (FG) agreed and said the council would be “foolish” not to proceed when the money is available. “If something does happen from a safety point of view, I don’t want to have to tell people we didn’t do it.”

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