Phoenix starts laying pipes in Downpatrick

Phoenix starts laying pipes in Downpatrick

10 January 2018

THERE was significant traffic congestion on a number of the main approach roads to Downpatrick this week as contractors working for Phoenix Gas started to lay a new mains pipeline.

At one stage yesterday morning, traffic backed up from the New Bridge Street roundabout to beyond the Down Business Centre at the Belfast Road. There were also long tailbacks along the Old Belfast and Strangford roads.

In the town centre, a temporary one-way traffic system was put in place yesterday morning as contractors begun to lay a mains pipe along Market Street, resulting in heavy traffic in Irish Street, Stream Street and St Patrick’s Avenue. The temporary one-way system ends this Friday afternoon.

The long tailbacks resulted in delays getting to work and school as contractors started work on a £6m investment to bring natural gas to 5,000 homes and businesses in Downpatrick. 

One area of particular concern was the Bridge Street junction with New Bridge Street which carries a high volume of early morning and afternoon traffic with pupils, parents and teachers on their way to and from a number of schools.

Normally in the morning rush hour, vehicles wishing to turn right off New Bridge Street use a filter lane, allowing cars behind to continue on towards Church Street and the town centre using the main road. However, this is not possible at the moment due to the presence of Phoenix contractors.

Part of the road where the filter lane is located has been reduced to one lane which is exacerbating the congestion problem as vehicles behind those waiting to turn have nowhere to go.

Currently, contractors are working at several locations in the town centre to lay a mains pipe from New Bridge Street through to the Ballydugan Road, with Phoenix keen to have this important aspect of the scheme completed by mid-March. 

It is anticipated that if no major issues arise, laying the pipe from the Ballydugan Road to the Market Street junction with Irish Street could take as little around three weeks to complete, while work to lay a section of mains pipe in front of the Down Arts Centre will be carried out on a Sunday in a bid to minimise disruption.

A Phoenix spokesperson confirmed yesterday afternoon that it is aware of traffic disruption within the New Bridge Street area as it undertakes its essential construction works to bring natural gas to Downpatrick. 

“Having consulted locally, Phoenix is implementing a manned traffic management system during morning rush hour to assist with the filtering of school traffic commencing this morning,” a spokesman said.

“This will be monitored continuously and implemented at other times as required. Work is scheduled to complete in this section before the end of the week.

“Phoenix Natural Gas is working with the relevant bodies and its contractors to review its temporary traffic light sequencing on Market Street and Irish Street to help minimise disruption and improve traffic flow throughout Downpatrick town centre.”

Before work in Downpatrick started, Phoenix officials confirmed two-way traffic flow will be maintained while contractors are working in New Bridge Street and Church Street.

They insist the company aims to complete the work through the centre of the town as quickly as possible.

Phoenix say they are “acutely aware” that bringing mains gas to towns han impact and insist everything possible will be done to minimise disruption.