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Road safety scheme thrown into doubt after councillors’ vote


From this week's Galway City Tribune

From this week's Galway City Tribune

Road safety scheme thrown into doubt after councillors’  vote Road safety scheme thrown into doubt after councillors’  vote

A proposal by councillors to retain parking spaces and retain a slip road has thrown into doubt a scheme designed to make it safer for hundreds of children to navigate their school route across several neighbourhoods.

While no cycle lanes were proposed under the Crescent and Sea Road upgrade, the design of the scheme across 300 metres improved road layout at The Crescent, Salthill Road Lower, Taylor’s Hill Road and St Mary’s Road for more vulnerable road users.

It did this by widening existing pedestrian crossings, adding a signalised crossing at The Crescent Medical Centre, a toucan crossing adjacent to the Sea Road junction and raised crossings at the junction of Crescent Green, Palmyra Park, Sea Road and St Paul’s Road.

It planned to remove the Salthill Road Lower slip road and build a “rain garden” in its place to act as “a sustainable urban drainage measure reducing and slowing the speed of rainfall entering the storm water network and a public realm enhancement for the area”. It would also double as a waiting area for parents at Scoil Fhursa. The design removed a lane of traffic from the Sea Road approach.

The extra crossings would serve to slow down traffic in a very busy thoroughfare used by pupils and their parents en route to multiple national and secondary schools.

A tree at the junction where the Crescent, Sea Road and Fr Griffin Road meet would be removed from the footpath and a car parking space used by the principal of Scoil Fhursa was also taken out as it was on a public path.

A total of 13 car spaces were to be removed, seven of them from The Crescent, a long-time home to many medical practices.

The planner’s report stated that “the provision of additional parking spaces on streets will be considered further”.

Of the 49 public submissions received, 88% were positive, Caroline Butler from Clifton Scannell Emerson consultants told a Galway City Council meeting on Monday.

Among the concerns raised was the loss of car parking, including one disabled bay, which would hit elderly people attending the medical practices hard. The removal of the slip road would also add to traffic tailbacks at the junction.

The planned rain garden should help with the water barrelling down Taylor’s Hill during heavy rain.

Cllr Peter Keane (FF) said removing the slip road would see traffic backed up to The Crescent – this on top of other changes in the city such as removing traffic from Cross Street meant that soon tailbacks along Lough Atalia would soon regularly reach The Huntsman at peak periods.

“People are spending hours and hours in traffic. I don’t think this Council recognises that. I appreciate there’s a hierarchy of interests. In an ideal world we’d all get on the bus but there isn’t the frequency there.”

Councillor Frank Fahy (FG) said he already found it difficult to get parking to access his own doctor’s surgery there. He asked that the planning department consider allowing the medical practices to alter their front gardens to allow car parking.

Cllr Alan Curran (SD) said losing seven out of 25 car spaces in The Crescent was not excessive and the four being lost along Fr Griffin Avenue was to create a footpath, which was “a small price to pay”.

“We need to be brave. I don’t want this to be active travel versus motorists. It’s inevitable there’s going to be conflict.”

Cllr Niall Murphy (Green) said the research showed that the most dangerous part of a child’s journey to school was the last 100 metres with cars dropping and picking up. He had sent a video to the Council of a car driving down a footpath in the area.

The head of the Council’s Transport Unit, Uinsinn Finn, said it was mandatory for the Council to follow guidance from the Design Manual for Roads and Street (DMURS), which stipulated that road designers should omit left turn slips as they provide “little extra effective vehicular capacity but are highly disruptive for pedestrians and cyclists”.

The existing slip lane has a curve radius of 50m, greatly in excess of the 6m radius recommended – it allowed cars to turn left without reducing speed which was dangerous for pedestrians.

Removing the slip would decrease capacity by just 0.2%, according to traffic modelling carried out.

In response to several requests to defer the matter for further consultation, Mr Finn said the proposal had to be voted on so it could be submitted to the National Transport Authority (NTA) within two days for final approval for funding.

He also stressed that any “derogation” to retain the slip road would be unlikely to be approved by the NTA as it did not significantly help motorists and hindered those not in cars. The Council had secured one in the Kirwan Junction but only because it was advantageous to 50,000 motorists a day.

Cllr Keane tabled an amendment not to remove car spaces or the slip road, which won the vote, nine votes to five.

After the meeting, Mr Finn told the Galway City Tribune that by retaining the car spaces, two lanes from The Crescent onto St Mary’s Road would not fit. The crossing opposite the Claddagh Medical Centre could also not be created as there had to be a set distance from parked cars.

“We’re going to amend the design in line with the modifications and then go back to the NTA who will decide if it complies with DMURS. If it doesn’t, we’re in trouble. I don’t want to jump to that stage yet, but this certainly puts it at risk.”

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