Study over congestion in Downpatrick

Study over congestion in Downpatrick

27 March 2024

A FEASIBILITY study examining options to address traffic congestion outside a busy primary school in Downpatrick is not yet complete, it has been confirmed.

Department for Infrastructure engineers are looking at a number of options as part of the study in Edward Street where Our Lady and St Patrick Primary School is located.

Previously, calls have been issued for a one-way traffic system to be introduced at this part of the town and a ban on lorries and other large vehicles from using it.

As work on the feasibility study continues – the outcome of which will be discussed with local politicians – South Down MLA Colin McGrath believes Stormont Roads Minister John O’Dowd must be clear about any proposals to address the traffic congestion.

He is pushing for the introduction of a street scheme in Edward Street which would result in its temporary closure at morning and afternoon peak periods as part of a radical new safety initiative.

Local politicians have already given their backing to the move with the scheme already in operation in the Republic and, significantly, an integral part of Department for Infrastructure policy.

Local councillors hope that the Newry, Mourne and Down area will be chosen to pilot the initiative as part of the Department’s active travel scheme.

Under the initiative, roads outside selected schools would be closed to traffic — but not residents  — when children are going to school in the morning and being collected in the afternoon.

Mr McGrath said the street scheme would make the area outside Our Lady and St Patrick safer by reducing traffic and also improve air quality.

“The Roads Minister said this is one of a suite of options being considered as part of the feasibility study to alleviate congestion and I have asked him to spell out what these are but been informed the study is not yet complete,” he continued.

Mr McGrath confirmed that he has written to Mr O’Dowd to urge that MLAs are consulted.

He added: “We need to know what options are being considered. So far, the minister has ducked telling me this and it cannot go on any longer.”