Writes Ciaran Dineen
On Monday afternoon at the latest Carrigaline LEA Municipal District (MD) meeting, Councillors were provided with a comprehensive summary report on the new layout of the much maligned Shannonpark Roundabout in Carrigaline.
At the last gathering of Councillors and Council Officials, the roundabout was the ultimate hot-topic on the agenda when it emerged following the near-completion of development that the much-promised slip lane to Ringaskiddy had been omitted from the Part 8 plan, unbeknownst to local representatives.
Following a heated exchange between the elected members and officials, it was revealed that the slip lane had been removed from the design due to a change in safety standards, but Councillors had not been effectively consulted about this alteration. Criticising the process, Councillor Seámus McGrath (FF) demanded that a report be published over the design development and asked the Director of Services, Roads and Transportation, Pádraig Barrett if one could be provided at the July MD, to which he agreed.
True to his word Mr. Barrett provided members with a 12 page summary on Monday afternoon in the Council Chambers. The report highlighted that following the failure of two previous planning applications in 2013 and 2015, Cork County Council (CCC) decided to carry out an alternative assessment of the Shannonpark Roundabout, with the aim of improving its design in order to better manage congestion and capacity issues.
On both occasions in 2013 and 2015, the preferred option of incorporating a signalised junction at the roundabout was refused and as a result other options had to be identified. In June 2017 CCC applied for Part 8 planning for the upgrade of the roundabout, with the preliminary design consisting of; the widening of approach lanes, provision of a separate slip lane, realignment of footpaths, and other necessary works.
However, while Councillors were aware and happy with the Part 8 planning of the design, predominantly due to the creation of a slip lane which was deemed to have the most beneficial impact, CCC removed it from their development agenda due to a change in road design standards, which occurred mid-way through 2017.
The report stated, “the segregated left-turn lane which formed part of the preliminary design that was proposed in the Part 8 Planning could therefore not be progressed as it was removed/changed in the standards due to merging vehicles being sideswiped by accelerating vehicles exciting the roundabout…..In the old design, users of the slip lane would have had to have yielded to any traffic exiting the roundabout eastbound, which would have not provided for any actual lane gain or added benefits above the current design, which is safer for all road users.”
New Layout of Shannonpark Roundabout
Mr Barrett went on to say that the Council stood over the changes that had been made, explaining that the benefits of the new layout will only be emphasised come September. Councillor Marcia D’Alton (Ind), thanked the official for his detailed report but took him to task on the wording used to describe the omission of the slip lane, which was termed as a ‘slight change’. She also asked if the slip lane was referred to specifically in the planning process then why were Councillors kept in the dark over its removal?
Councillor D’Alton argued that in future the process must be overall more transparent on a number of issues, including cost and who was paying for it. Councillor Aidan Lombard (FG) added that while he wasn’t part of the process, given that he was in the Bandon-Kinsale ward at the time, he believes that the Safety Audit mentioned in the report would provide the necessary answers itself and possibly provide vindication for the Council’s decision.
Coming back from Councillor McGrath who clarified his own viewpoint, saying that the anger and frustration came as a result of the change taking place without the knowledge of Councillors. He went on to say, “in the future we need to learn from that, if there are changes of that nature on other occasions. Whether they are deemed material from a planning point of view is irrelevant from my point of view as an elected member and it should be brought before us.”
Pádraig Barrett agreed that it did not look visually good and said that in future he would try and make Councillors more aware of changes, however he maintains that it was the correct thing to do and the people using the roundabout will soon reap the benefits.
Speaking about the merging lanes that have caused a lot of confusion he said he understood that they are a big thing for people to overcome who aren’t used to change but that they are common practice on many roads throughout the country and that they will help to “suck the traffic” around the roundabout.
Read the remainder of the edition here: http://subscriber.pagesuite-professional.co.uk/subscribe.aspx?eid=c946bff2-f434-4a7b-a75d-621998d7e750