A BY-PASS of Newcastle West could be years away, local councillors have been told by a senior council engineer.
“But a plan to cope in the interim period is vital,” Vincent Murray, senior engineer, told the elected representatives.
A number of studies and plans for traffic management had been drawn up over the years, Mr Murray acknowledged, while the local area plan includes a proposal for a developer-led inner relief road.
“We will look at what has been done and what needs to be done,” he said.
The vital thing was to come up with a plan and submit it for funding to the mid-term review for capital spending projects later this year.
“We are looking to work with Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) and the Road Design office to look at these issues,” he explained at last Wednesday’s meeting of the Newcastle West Municipal District.
Among the issues to be examined were the congestion spots at the four major junctions, at Lacey’s Cross, Sheehan’s Road, Monagea Rd and Bridge St. Traffic volumes along the N21 through Newcastle West are about 15,000 vehicles a day, Mr Murray said.
But Cllr Michael Collins FF said that traffic movement in the Square should also be looked at and argued that simple enough changes that wouldn’t cost a lot of money could make a lot of difference.
Responding to councillors’ concerns about traffic bottlenecks at Adare, Newcastle West and Abbeyfeale, Mr Murray said the issue of a by-pass for Newcastle West and also for Abbeyfeale was raised with TII last year.
However, he added, there was a lot of competing schemes for funding.
“Seven kilometres of road, or less, would solve the problem,” Cllr Jerome Scanlan pointed out.
Cllr Liam Galvin claimed that the traffic problems in Adare, Newcastle West and Abbeyfeale were being “kicked down the road”. And he held out no immediate hope for by-passes. All the money is going to roads in Galway and Dublin, he said.
“Since 2014, not a halfpenny has been spent in putting down a pound of tar in Adare or Newcastle West.”
“Businesses and communities are suffering because of this,” Cllr Seamus Browne SF said. And he claimed that Abbeyfeale is “dying under the weight of traffic”.
He was concerned that any proposals would only be “tinkering” with the situation, not resolving it.
“We need inner relief roads,” Cllr Francis Foley FF said.
A proposal to put a mini-roundabout at the Monagea junction near the church was put by Cllr Jerome Scanlan and seconded by Cllr Michael Collins who felt mini-roundabouts could be a solution for all the junctions. He also asked that a developer who had offered to put in a mini-roundabout and part of the inner relief road in Newcastle West should be spoken with.
”He has come up against a stumbling block with TII,” Cllr Collins said.