High Street residents 'under siege' after traffic changes
Residents of High Street are feeling as though they are 'under siege' following a major increase of traffic making its way along the narrow street after the decision was taken to close off lower Rowe Street to traffic during business hours.
The decision was taken on a 'trial basis' for the month of October, however, now in December it shows little sign of being reversed.
Given how narrow High Street is, if a resident temporarily pulls in on the footpath to offload groceries or a van parks to let off a delivery, other cars are forced to mount the footpath on the other side to get around them. With the increase in traffic along the street, it has led to a situation where cars are driving quite quickly along the footpath just inches from people's front doors.
Photographer and High Street Resident Pádraig Grant took to social media after one particular close call saw him nearly mowed down by a speeding vehicle driving on the footpath as he stepped out of his front door.
'This is not uncommon,' he said. 'It's every second day you get something like this. The street is so narrow that if anyone parks, cars are forced up onto the footpath. That was fine before, but with such an increased volume of traffic on the street since the council made these changes, it's really dangerous.'
'It just feels like there's been no consultation on this,' he continued. 'Somebody had the bright idea to make this little street a main thoroughfare all of a sudden. It's also where the Opera House is located, so you could easily have 800 people spilling out onto the street after a show.'
While members of the public were invited to make submissions on the traffic plan, Pádraig says the majority of people have been unaware of this process.
'For example, my mum is 84 years old and lives on High Street,' he said. 'She doesn't use a computer. She mentioned it to Cllr Lisa McDonald who is based on Rowe Street, but she's in the Rosslare District now. As a resident you feel like you're under siege with traffic and deliveries and then when you factor in wheelie bin collection day as well. It feels like they make these decisions and it's a case of, well the horse has bolted now; you close the gate.'
Cllr Leonard Kelly described the situation on High Street as 'an accident waiting to happen'.
'This is why we need a complete approach and a full traffic plan for the town in place,' he said. 'We can't keep tinkering with things and this is a prime example why. We've just taken a problem from one place and made things worse elsewhere.'
Cllr Kelly said that the members were expecting feedback on the current changes to the traffic management plan at yesterday's (Monday's) district meeting, however, he did add: 'To adopt the current plan would require changes to the by-laws, but I'm not happy to sign off on it based on the feedback I'm currently getting.'
Cllr Kelly also said he intends to table a motion to invite a delegation of retailers to speak to the members and council executives at the January district meeting. A similar motion was being put forward by Cllr John Hegarty who says that the level of anger among retailers and the general public around traffic management in town had reached a fever pitch.
'I was actually surprised just how frustrated some of the retailers in the town centre are,' he said. 'There's an issue with traffic management, but really it's a culmination of things going back a number of years.'
Speaking ahead of yesterday's District Council meeting where the town traffic plan was to come up for discussion, Cllr Hegarty said: 'I think before anything is signed off on or set in stone, we need to have a public meeting about this,' he said. 'It may well just be an opportunity for people to vent, but so be it. I think we need to decide on a long-term strategy. We need to be looking towards the future and deciding what way we need traffic to flow.'
Engineers were to present their recommendations to the town's traffic management plan at yesterday's district council meeting, but speaking ahead of it, Cllr Hegarty said that there were two things that he would be insisting upon.
'I adamantly think that the Bullring needs to be changed back to two way,' he said. 'Following on from this I think Lower Rowe Street should remain closed off to traffic. Cars are passing a pedestrianised street there at the moment onto a lane-way that's very narrow. You don't even have to be driving dangerously, a slip off the clutch could have dangerous consequences.'
'All other changes to the traffic management plan I can listen to different viewpoints on, but I've absolutely made my mind up on those two.'