Westport town manager Peter Hynes has said that the issue surrounding traffic in the town — which was discussed during a special meeting of Westport Town Council — is being examined, but as the town “was not designed for the car in mind” it will always mean that it will take some time in order to pass through the town. However if Westport is shortlisted for the Smarter Town Travel scheme and is in receipt of funding Mr Hynes said that cars will eventually be replaced by a larger uptake of people cycling and walking in the town, which will help alleviate traffic problems.
Patrick Corcoran, town engineer, defended recent criticism about the traffic light system in the town saying the traffic lights, which were upgraded earlier this year, are “state of the art”, and that delays in the town are caused by driver practice, whereby people stop at green lights particularly in the mornings when dropping children at school.
Mr Corcoran said that school transport needs to be addressed and that the slip road in the Knockranny area should be a designated zone to drop and pick up children, or that buses should drop children in the school grounds.
As for parking in the town core and nearby residential areas, there is a recommendation for pay and display, which was not favoured by all town councillors.
Among 31 traffic issued raised by town councillors some of these included Councillor Tereasa McGuire’s suggestion that there should be road markings placed at the Mall next to the Post Office to indicate a left or right turn; that something needs to be done about the safety of exiting from the SuperValu car park as it is “one of the most dangerous spots in the town”, and that there should be a roundabout at the top of the Lodge Road/Castlebar Road.
Cllr Martin Keane was concerned about incidents where cars exiting the leisure centre car park have turned right up the one way street, and Cllr Christy Hyland said that Newport road traffic should not be allowed to go straight into town, but must take the left at the traffic lights.
Cllr Brendan Mulroy said that the road behind the clock should be opened up from High Street onto Shop Street; that traffic in the town should be reverted to a two-way system; reiterated his views opposing the town’s traffic lights; said that the loading bays in the town are not working and that there should be a permit system in operation at the library.
His party colleague Cllr Margaret Adams agreed that the library area is “mayhem” and that James Street should be used as a two-way system. She also said that traffic coming from the Castlebar side heading out the Quay/Louisburgh direction should be diverted up the Distillery Road and said that the middle Mall bridge should be two-way.
Cathaoirleach of the town council Myles Staunton said that three short-term and three long-term traffic changes should be looked into in the next couple of months, with the town manager saying that these, along with a focus on parking issues, will be before the town council before Christmas.