Ballina Town Council has confirmed a September starting date for new traffic plans for Ballina. Initially the town council and Mayo County Council hoped to begin the phased introduction of the proposals this summer, but a September starting date has been confirmed with all of the trial measures being introduced on a phased basis.
The Ballina Chamber held a successful meeting with engineers from both Ballina Town Council and Mayo County Council earlier this week to discuss the new roads plan for the town. Town engineer Michael O’Grady told the meeting that at present all routes into the town funnel through the heart of the town, and the new plans will divert traffic which does not need to be in the centre of the town around a orbital route, meaning only people who have business in town will enter the town centre.
He continued, telling the members of the chamber that the two main issues at the moment in the town were traffic flow and use of space on the roads. “We have taken the centre of the town and created a cell of sorts, which hopefully will give the people who want to get into the town easy access,” he said. “There will be issues but once the system beds down and people will become used to it.”
Increasing parking spaces key
The proposals include changing the direction of the traffic on Tone Street and Emmett Street, making each of the bridges crossing the Moy one-way systems, and getting rid of some of the traffic lights in the town. The question of increased parking capacity being important to the success of this new system was raised by a member of the Chamber. Mr O’Grady confirmed that plans are afoot to increase the capacity in the near future. These plans include making the pay and display system more efficient by extending it and 70 new carparking spaces in Market Square will be increased by 200 or 300.
Mr O’Grady also confirmed that the changes should start to come into effect from some time next month on a trial basis.
“We had originally looked at starting this on trial early in the summer, but we think now that by September we’ll have the one way system on Cathedral Road and Emmett Street,” Mr O’Grady said. “The whole thing will be done on a phased basis. Like any system it takes a few weeks for everything to bed into place. We don’t want to concentrate too much on the town centre until the upgrade works at Pearse Street are completed, so it could be nine to 12 months before we get to the town centre.”
Mr O’Grady assured the Chamber that he believed journey times will be quicker under the new proposals. “If you have to drive a half mile further under the new system but get there quicker than under the old system, I know I’d prefer to get there quicker. At the moment it’s a bit of a free for all in the town centre, we’re trying to eliminate that from the centre of the town and improve it for everyone.”
NRA to decide on third bridge
The issue of a third river crossing was brought up by the Chamber as a necessity for the town, which was agreed with by both Mr O’Grady and Mayo County Council engineer Paul Dolan. Both men said it was something that was badly needed but that it was a decision for the NRA, not for them. Mr O’Grady also informed the members that each of the changes would be on a trial basis and that they would be looking at each change to see how they worked and if they weren’t working would look at other options and were always open to suggestions from people as how to improve the situation.