Can we avoid traffic issues in the town?
A proposal to change the traffic flow in Wexford to cater for the new Garda headquarters in Mulgannon has raised questions about the impact that long-awaited new landmark buildings currently nearing completion will have on traffic in the town.
Gardaí would like the traffic management plan amended to allow quicker access to the town centre for garda vehicles, which will otherwise have to travel in a roundabout direction through the Faythe and onto the quays before reaching the town, or alternatively to drive onto Distillery Road, the Boker and Bride Street.
It's a problematic proposal requiring a change from one-way to two-way traffic on the narrow road from the King Street traffic lights junction to the Faythe which currently features a busy side entrance into Tesco supermarket and car parking on the left-hand side.
Local councillors are divided in their opinions on the idea as senior engineers examine the options available at the junction. Cllrs Ger Carthy and George Lawlor say it's vital while Cllr Deirdre Wadding predicts 'mayhem' if two-way traffic is restored.
Meanwhile, a traffic impact is also anticipated at two other locations - in Wygram, where a multi-million euro new courthouse is under construction, and in Killeens, where a new 900-pupil Loreto secondary school is due to open next September.
The road from Bishopswater to Killeens and the New Line Road is already the second busiest artery in the town after the Wexford to Castlebridge road, with the Gaelscoil at one end and soon to be the largest secondary school at the other. The addition of hundreds of extra cars especially into morning rush hour traffic is expected to create major pressure.
The location of the new Wexford Courthouse immediately off the busy and staggered John Street junction leading to Newtown Road and Wexford Hospital will create increased demand for parking but ithe sue is being addressed by the county council.
Senior executive engineer Noel O'Driscoll said the local authority is looking at the area around the new Garda headquarters to see if it warrants a change from a one-way system and whether it is feasible. 'We are examining it at the moment and are doing a few figures on it. We have to determine what impact it would have on the junction and on the traffic flow generally in that area of town. We will have a report on it in about two or three weeks,' he said.
In relation to the courthouse, he said there will be a total of 54 car parking spaces within the premises and the council is also planning to provide additional car parking on the nearby 'Christmas trees site' which it purchased about two years ago with the aim of supporting courthouse parking as well as building social housing.
'We don't forsee any major problems there from a traffic point of view, none at the moment at least. We wouldn't see it as having a major impact,' he said.
Mr O'Driscoll said he doesn't anticipate problems at the new Loreto secondary school either as a twin roundabout system was put in place before the location was earmarked for a school, in anticipation of future development on that site.
'We have no plans for anything additional. There would have been an issue if the road hadn't been there. The road system and entrance were put in place to cater for further development later on.'
Commenting on the Garda station, Cllr George Lawlor said: 'We don't know whether it's possible or not to have a two-way system between King Street and the Faythe. We are awaiting a report from the engineers to see if anything can be done'.
On the courthouse and Loreto school, the Labour councillor said the buildings will bring additional traffic and the local authority will 'have to wait and see if any problems emerge and tackle them if they need addressing'.
He said he doesn't forsee a massive problem at the Loreto and, in any event, the school won't be the only development on the 90-acre site. A total of 10 acres is taken up by the Loreto and a further 18 acres is earmarked for a new People's Park, leaving a remaining 60 acres for other projects.
District manager Angela Laffan said the possibility of a two-way traffic system to facilitate the Garda headquarters is being investigated 'to see if a solution can be found and whether it could work'.
She said the council bought land on the corner of Belvedere Road about two years ago for a public car park which will service the new courthouse and Wexford Park on busy match days.
'The intention is that work on this will start once the courthouse building nears completion. I understand senior management are also looking at an element of social housing there,' she said. Ms Laffan said that from her experience in observing court days in the old County Hall, she doesn't expect traffic problems at the courthouse.