06 Oct 2022

Road to new €7m Stranorlar school a "death trap" - warns councillor

Traffic chaos predicted as footpath will not cater for huge numbers in area

Road to new €7m Stranorlar school a "death trap" - warns councillor

Cllr Patrick McGowan demonstrates just how narrow the Mill Brae footpath to the new school in Stranorlar is

Fears have been expressed that a road leading to the new €7 million St Mary's National School at Mill Brae, Stranorlar could be a "death trap"

Cathaoirleach of the Lifford-Stranorlar Municipal District, Cllr Patrick McGowan warned that the volume of traffic expected in the area from school opening today (Thursday) coupled with the lack of a proper footpath leading to it could spell disaster.

The Killygordon-based councillor said this road and associated infrastructure such as footpaths have been needed in this area for some time and now with the new school about to welcome over 500 pupils and staff of over 40, that need could manifest itself in a dangerous way. He blames a lack of foresight, action and planning for the situation.

"This road is not only being used as a bypass around the towns, it is also a meeting point for three national primary roads coming from Letterkenny, Lifford and Donegal Town. It's a busy junction at the best of times already servicing the residents living in Ard MacCumhaill, the local swimming pool, the Finn Valley AC centre, the Ballybofey and Stranorlar Livestock Mart and now with no footpath and vehicles meeting to drop off children off at the new school, it's going to get even worse."

Cllr McGowan said while the school (above) opened for a week before the summer recess, everyone knew this new building was going to be there for over 20 years but no planning had been put in place to make sure this traffic hazard was avoided.

"The school was 20 years in the planning but unfortunately it now opening with only a substandard single footpath there to cater for those walking to it. It is less than a metre wide in places on a narrow road. When you allow for buses lorries and cars using it to bypass the towns, this is going to be a very busy place.

He added he was extremely disappointed that Donegal County Council has not managed to fast-track the very necessary development by now.

"This road was made the strategic number one road project in the county for the past two years yet no money has been secured for it. I am quite annoyed at this. The matter has been raised by the school's board of management and I have been on to the council and the department about how important it was. I just hope no accidents happen because of more traffic and pedestrians converging in this area at crucial times of the day."

Cllr McGowan added there was scope on the road to expand and avoid such congestion.
"There is an area called Dr Kee's field right beside this road. It should have been purchased when it came on the market in anticipation of the need and the road widened.

“This road from McClay's Corner to the top of Mill Brae Road down to the school itself is now a death trap and I'll point out again that we've known about the school development for 20 years.

"There have been traffic management issues for years in this area and when it was made the number one strategic road to be developed in the county I thought there would be improvements but while Part 8 planning has been put in place there is no sign of funding.

“I'm not sure what effort has been made to push the project along but I have demanded answers and I want to see the council and the department's paper trail showing what efforts have been made to date."

The councillor said everyone was expected to comply with conditions associated with building any kind of infrastructure, the council should be no different.

He is also hoping things go smoothly at the opening today and going forward.

“We need action on this from today on. I just hope we are not saying ‘I told you so’.

A query was sent to Donegal County Council over a week ago in relation to what the up-to-date position on this road was. We are still awaiting a reply.

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