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Active Travel ‘Shortcut’ To Ballinrea Campus Goes To Part 8 Planning

Writes Ciaran Dineen

A Part 8 planning process has begun as Cork County Council look to provide a shortcut link for students to access the new three-school campus in Ballinrea, Carrigaline.

Cork County Council wish to seek permission to create an active travel link for pedestrians and cyclists to connect with the schools via Carrig na Curra. The Council remain in talks with the developer and owners of the Carrig na Curra estate over the use of a small portion of land that is critical in facilitating a shortcut to the schools.

It has always been the intention to develop an access point via Carrig na Curra, with it also being a condition of permission for the construction of the school campus, who have already constructed their own pedestrian and cycle link that is waiting to be joined up. The purpose of the shortcut is to reduce the travel time for students accessing the campus from a number of estates, including Janeville and Carrig na Curra.

As things stand, students can only access the schools via Ballinrea Road, which itself has undergone significant redesign, along with Ashgrove Roundabout, to facilitate the increased footfall. A number of pedestrian crossings have been installed, with footpaths widened and the carriageway narrowed in an effort to introduce traffic calming.

The Council intend to go to Part 8 permission in the coming weeks, with members of the public able to make submissions and observations free of charge. As a concept creating more shortcuts like the one proposed is going to become more of a feature in Carrigaline in light of recent attempts to increase active travel and reduce the number of car journeys where possible. This is particularly the case for estates that are located close to schools and amenities but have poor pedestrian and cycling access to them.

Local County Councillors were informed of the development with Carrig na Curra at the February meeting of the Carrigaline Municipal District (MD). Welcoming the update was Cllr Seámus McGrath (FF) who said, “I think we have provided superb active travel links to the campus in general and this will only enhance it and it will be a very important connection to Carrig na Curra, Janeville and Heron’s Wood, which will accommodate many households as a result.”

Cllr McGrath, who has had a lot of input during the whole process relating to redesign projects relating to the new schools, did note two points that he wanted further clarification on. The first was the proposal to introduce another pedestrian crossing on the Cork Road, between the crossing at Carrig na Curra and the newly installed signalised junction at Heron’s Wood.

Concerns have been raised about the impact of a third crossing over such a short distance and the knock-on effects this may have on congestion and traffic flow, with Cllr Jack White (FG) also raising the matter. The second query related to the operational activity of the proposed shortcut and whether the link would be the responsibility of the school caretaker to open and close during school hours.

Responding to the issues raised, Senior Engineer, John Slattery informed councillors that there were “technological solutions to counter any negative effects” that may arise in relation to the implementation of another crossing. Mr Slattery suggested that the Council may decide to elect one of the three junctions as a “dominant crossing which would give priority to pedestrians and cyclists”.

He indicated the preferred option would be to choose the crossing at Carrig na Curra for this purpose, with other crossings timed at a sequence which favours vehicular movement. In time this would create a natural gravitational pull towards the use of this crossing by students as a result of the timing sequence.

In relation to Cllr McGrath’s second query, the Senior Engineer confirmed that a gate would be installed at the proposed link between the campus and Carrig na Curra which would be opened in the morning and closed in the evening once school activities end.

The report was welcomed by Chairperson, Cllr Marcia D’Alton (Ind), who stressed the importance of active travel measures for towns like Carrigaline not only for young people put for their parents too. John Slattery was pleased to hear the support and also added further thoughts on the successful scheme along Ballinrea Road, thanking the design team for the work they have put in for the project to be delivered.

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