The bridge at Carrick-on-Shannon is the only crossing point for traffic on the N4 in the town.
Leitrim County Council Chief Executive, Lar Power, has said that a bypass of Carrick-on-Shannon is the only solution to the current traffic problems affecting the town.
At Monday's Leitrim Joint Policing meeting, Cllr Finola Armstrong-McGuire and Cllr Paddy Farrell both highlighted the growing frustration over the traffic queues seen in the county town, especially on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings.
Cllr Armstrong-McGuire raised the issue at the JPC noting, “The problem of traffic (building up) in the town is on an evening basis but especially on Friday, Saturday and Sunday”.
She said that she had made calls to Carrick-on-Shannon Garda Station on several occasions when she witnessed the traffic backed up significantly, especially approaching from the Sligo side of the town.
“This problem is going on and on and on,” said Cllr Armstrong-McGuire, “and it doesn't take a lot to form it (traffic queues).”
She asked if studies on traffic flow have been carried out to establish “where the problem is really coming from” in the town and asked if the Gardai had a role to play in alleviating the situation.
“I hate to see the complaints (about the traffic) on Facebook,” she said, pointing out that it was giving a bad impression of the town.
Cllr Paddy Farrell said that the traffic problems were a cause of serious concern for the town. “The fact is the bypass; well it could be eight or ten years before this happens. We need a solution in the short term,” he stressed.
Leitrim County Council Chief Executive, Lar Power acknowledged the traffic problems in the town and said that he had sought a traffic study of Carrick-on-Shannon which was recently carried out over a three day period by a traffic engineering firm.
“I naively assumed that something like lights at the Elphin road would help,” said Mr Power, “but the results came back and said that no intervention bar a bypass will solve this.”
He said that central to the problem is the small roundabout at the bridge noting that at peak times this was seeing 846 vehicles passing through in an hour adding “that's beyond its capacity and it will cause queues.”
“Unfortunately if we could do something, we would already have done it,” he said. “There isn't the space available at the bridge coming into the roundabout at Coffey's. It is a single lane entering the roundabout and queues are forming.”
Sligo/Leitrim Chief Superintendent, Aidan Glacken also acknowledged the traffic problem observing that there is “too much water going into the bucket and the water is now overflowing” when it comes to traffic volumes in the town.”
He said he did not want to be flippant about the problem but the volume of traffic, coupled with the impact of negotiating the bridge crossing the Shannon River and the adjoining junction, added to the backlog of vehicles.
While he accepted that the pedestrian crossing on the Coffey's side of the bridge had been highlighted as a possible cause of delay by locals, he said this was a necessary road safety feature.
Chief Superintendent Glacken said that it was apparent there would be no viable short term solution to traffic queuing until a bypass is provided for the town.
“The fact is that this volume of traffic still has to go through the town,” he said, adding that “you'll just frustrate things by having a contra traffic flow” around Carrick-on-Shannon in the short term.
“I know this is frustrating. But the difficulty is that all traffic must cross the bridge. There is no alternative to this,” he said.
The news that the N4 Carrick-on-Shannon to Dromod upgrade has been included in the latest National Development Plan (NDP) 2021-2030, has not been met with a great deal of optimism. This upgrade was listed under the previous NDP and has now been rolled over into the new NDP, along with a number of other projects, with the proviso they are still “subject to further approvals”.
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