Appeal to accelerate one-way traffic plan

Appeal to accelerate one-way traffic plan

29 November 2017

ROADS officials have been urged to advance plans for a one-way traffic system at Edward Street in Downpatrick.

As congestion problems increase at one of the town’s busiest streets, where a local primary school is located, a politician from a neighbouring electoral area said the issue can no longer be ignored.

Rowallane councillor, Robert Burgess, who regularly walks along Edward Street on his way to Newry, Mourne and Down Council meetings at the Downshire Civic Centre, said he cannot believe the congestion issue is not being addressed.

Last year, Transport NI admitted the gridlock in Edward Street would not be tackled any time soon as it had no immediate plans to make the area safer, despite widespread public concern about articulated lorries mounting the footpath as children make their way to and from Our Lady and St. Patrick’s Primary School.

Appealing to roads officials to take a fresh look at the issue, councillor Burgess said he cannot believe that heavy lorries are permitted to use a narrow street never designed to cope with the huge volume of vehicles using it.

A transport review of town centre congestion carried out by Transport NI identified a number of schemes for delivery over the next number of years, but there were no immediate plans to address the problem in Edward Street. Work to widen and improve road safety at nearby Fountain Street was completed earlier this year, while roads officials hope a scheme to upgrade Collins’ Corner can start before the end of the financial year. 

Councillor Burgess said he hopes Transport NI will focus attention on doing something in Edward Street where gridlock is common place at peak periods. He said the fact there are so many children should spur those in authority to act, confirming he plans to raise his concerns with roads officials and hopes there will be some forward movement.

“Walking along Edward Street has given me a greater appreciation of just how bad the congestion is. There have been several occasions when traffic came to a complete a standstill. I also witnessed two large lorries, travelling in opposite directions, cause a major snarl-up which took some time to sort out.”

Councillor Burgess said while he fully appreciates roads officials are operating in a particularly challenging financial climate, he hopes they will advance plans to address the Edward Street congestion.

He added: “The congestion at this part of Downpatrick is unreal. I know there are problems across the town, but given the presence of a primary school the safety of pupils, staff, parents and indeed residents is paramount. While not a Downpatrick councillor, I am concerned about this issue and have people contacting me to see if I can help.

“I am aware not everyone is in favour of a one-way system, but am at a loss to know what else will help. Given the work that has been carried out at Fountain Street and the scheme proposed for Collins’ Corner, it surely makes sense to do something in Edward Street.”