Traffic Carnage in Carrigaline as Road Works Create Havoc
Writes Ciaran Dineen
It was a Monday and Tuesday that many would like to forget as commuters travelling in and out of Carrigaline faced a monumental traffic backlog, largely created by the closure of Church Road, Carrigaline, to facilitate Irish Water pipelaying works.
Following an enormous response from the public and local representatives, works along Church Road have now been postponed indefinitely until a better traffic management plan and schedule can be put in place prior to the recommencement of works.
The sheer scale of the impact on Monday and Tuesday was hard to overstate, as all sides and approaches around Carrigaline faced significant traffic increases, including areas such as Ballinrea Cross, the Rock Road and Raffeen Hill. On Tuesday, traffic backlogs also formed along Ballea Road as many attempted to avoid travelling the village, with jams reaching as far as the Ballygarvan Road.
The epicentre of the carnage was however undoubtedly at Shannonpark Roundabout, with queues of traffic stretching all along Carr’s Hill, as far as the Bloomfield Interchange, creating bumper to bumper traffic of over 6km in length.
This had a significant impact on commuters travelling towards Ringaskiddy for work on Monday and Tuesday morning, with traffic starting to pick up as shift work began at approximately 6am. The issue continued to worsen as the morning went on, with commuting to school and college also affected, with huge delays to bus services caused by the backlog. Those attempting to get around Carrigaline were also impacted, as the traffic emanating from Shannonpark quickly wound its way down into Carrigaline village, bringing movement to a standstill. Tales of journeys taking nearly an hour to travel just one kilometre have been recounted in large numbers, with those travelling from Carr’s Hill facing even longer and more arduous delays.
The primary cause of the chaos is the result of a road closure in Carrigaline, with Church Road, starting from St Mary’s Church as far as Coolmore Cross being closed from Monday 13th March until May 19th. This is a popular route for those working in the pharmaceutical industry in Ringaskiddy to take and its closure forces all traffic to flow through to the Ringaskiddy Road, via a number of different routes.
Irish Water, now known as Uisce Éireann, are responsible for the closure as part of works to help replace parts of the local water mains with new pipes to improve water supply and reduce leakage. These works are being carried out by Ward & Burke Construction Ltd, in partnership with Cork County Council, on behalf of Uisce Éireann and were due to be completed by June 2023.
The purpose of the works is to reduce disruption of the local water supply, however the knock on effect of the closure has lead to significant and perhaps unanticipated disruption to the local road network. Traffic in Carrigaline failed to dissipate until after 9am, resulting in many being late for work and school/college. Inevitably this lead to commuters varying their travel routes and departure times. Similar scenes were replicated later in the day after 5pm Monday, with consider queues of traffic forming from Ringaskiddy and into Shanbally.
Local Councillors spent their mornings and evenings answering countless messages about the fuss and fortunately were able to raise concerns at a meeting in Cork County Council with the Director of Services for roads, Padraig Barrett on Monday morning.
Councillors Jack White (FG), Seámus McGrath (FF), Marcia D'Alton (Ind) and Michael Paul Murtagh (FG) all made comments in relation to the chaotic scenes witnessed on the very first day of the road closure. Cllr Marcia D'Alton had stated that perhaps the poor weather and a car accident had compounded matters on Monday, however it quickly became apparent on Monday evening and Tuesday morning that this was not the case.
Councillors did however indicate their own sense that there was a general feeling from their correspondence that change regarding the manner of the works and road closure was likely. This became inevitable on Tuesday morning as traffic worsened from the day before. 10 minute commutes were taking over two hours in many cases, while those taking public transport were left stranded for hours as buses were caught up in the same traffic as cars.
At a little after 9:30am on Tuesday morning, Uisce Éireann informed local representatives that with immediate effect, the road closure notice would end, with Church Road later reopening from 3pm. It is anticipated that the future schedule of works to be drawn up for works along Church Road will see more input from local councillors and key stakeholders in order to limit disruption to commuters.
The statement from Uisce Éireann read as follows; "Uisce Éireann, in partnership with Cork County Council, has postponed works on Church Road, Carrigaline as we review options to carry out this essential work to replace problematic watermain prone to frequent bursts while minimising the impact on the traffic in the area. The decision follows review of current traffic management plans and discussions with Cork County Council Roads Department. Uisce Éireann will now review possible options on how best to recommence the replacement of just over 2km of aged water mains with new modern pipes on Church Road, Carrigaline."