29 Sept 2022

Traffic woes in Letterkenny 'magnified ten-fold' due to new traffic lights

There are fears that businesses in Letterkenny could suffer economically as a result of ongoing issues relating to traffic delays

Traffic woes in Letterkenny 'magnified ten-fold' due to new traffic lights

Donegal County Council will review the new traffic signals at the junction of Pearse Road and Justice Walsh Road in Letterkenny.

Since the installation of the new system this summer, severe traffic delays have ensued.

Motorists have endured frustration at the queues, particularly on Pearse Road and there are fears that businesses in the town could suffer economically as a result.

Letterkenny-based Sinn Féin Councillor Gerry McMonagle tabled a motion to the September meeting of the Letterkenny-Milford Municipal District calling for review and a public consultation process behind.

Councillor McMonagle said businesses, taxi drivers, bus drivers and residents should be afford a chance to discuss the issue.

“Since the new lights system came in, it has magnified the problem ten-fold - to the extent that it will harm businesses and the image of Letterkenny,” Councillor McMonagle said.

“I understand the reason why the lights were put in there. We need to be able to protect people who are not as able-bodied to cross the road, but since those lights were put in, the lights aren’t acting together and they are adding to the problem.

“The traffic goes back so far and it blocks the traffic all around the town. We need to look at this and we need to admit that we were wrong.

“Maybe the system we put in place, costly and all that it was, was wrong - but it will be at a bigger cost to the town.”

Councillor Kevin Bradley added his concerns of the traffic at the troublesome junction having a ‘knock-on affect’ to the rest of the town.

“You look at the traffic from the Station House to the lights there, it’s jammed,” he said. “Let the people have their say on this.”

David McIlwaine, a senior executive engineer for roads and transport with Donegal County Council, said he ‘accepts and understands’ the points raced.

“The lights were validated by the suppliers,” Mr McIlwaine said. “It will need fine-tuning. The installation of the lights was to facilitate pedestrians and to make it a safer junction. Any amendments could take it back to being an unsafe junction.”

Councillor McMonagle pointed out that the validation process didn’t take into account the ‘upset’ being caused. “That just means that the lights are working properly,” Councillor McMonagle said.

“The impact is what we need to assess because that is what is causing the blockage. A journey that should take two or three minutes is taking 20 minutes. Businesses in Letterkenny can’t carry that. What will we do there at Christmas? We need to look at that.

“Obviously the people who reviewed this weren’t from Letterkenny and aren’t aware of the problems.”

An official response from Donegal County Council on the issue confirmed that the traffic signal providers have carried out a review and validated these signals.

“They have reported that the signals should be working to their optimum but can carry out a further review to assess if any improvements can be made,” Donegal County Council said.

“In the process of carrying out the review, it was noted the junction was extremely busy with high pedestrian usage, particularly at lunchtime and a large number of vehicles accessing the Justice Walsh Road from the Pearse Road.”

The Council said that the erection of the traffic signals was progressed following a study in 2009, which highlighted that it would improve links to the Main Street and in addition to this, would improve safety for both pedestrians and vehicles.

The response noted that a Letterkenny Transport Plan is being progressed and will include a consultation process which will provide the public with the opportunity to contribute their views.

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