Work will get underway this June on the first two of four new roundabouts in Portlaoise whith coutny hall warning that two junctions are needed before new schools open.
Laois County Council have stressed the urgency of getting the new roundabouts in place by September 2016, when Portlaoise Parish’s two new primary schools are due to open on the Southern Circular Route (SCR).
Along with the three schools already there, Educate Together, the Gaelscoil and Maryborough NS, they will bring more than 2,000 schoolchildren on to the new road during school times.
Director of Services Kieran Kehoe said the junctions will come under pressure, and must be built before the parish schools open.
“It is important to get them upgraded,” he said.
Laois County Council intend to build the roundabouts during the summer to avoid school traffic.
The roundabouts will feature raised zebra crossings on every arm, and shared footpaths/cycleways to make it safer for children to walk or cycle to school.
Two roundabouts will be built this summer on the N80 Stradbally road, one at the junction to Block Road, the other at the junction to the new Southern Circular Route, beside Beladd housing estate.
Two other ‘mini roundabouts’ will be built in the summer of 2016 on the Dublin road, one at the junction to Block Road beside the hospital, the other at the junction to Fielbrook housing estate.
The Dublin road roundabouts are smaller because the council say acquiring land would delay the project past the deadline of September 2016.
“This is key to getting this done in time,” said Mr Kehoe.
Residents on the Block road, Stradbally road and Dublin road made 22 submissions to Laois County Council during recent public consultations.
Mr Kehoe said four key issues were raised by the public.
“Residents of the cul de sac opposite the SCR were concerned about the relocation of their access road and after discussion, we propose to maintain it at the current location. Others were concerned about a ratrun in Beladd and lower Summerhill, risking walkers and residents. To mitigate the risk we will install traffic calming like raised cushions at junctions,” he said.
Many residents were concerned about being able to access their driveways.
“Yellow boxes are also to be placed at selected private access points to mitigate that difficulty,” said Mr Kehoe.
On the Stradbally road, residents of Summerhill Lane objected to the removal of trees and lawn at the front of their estate, to make way for a cycle lane and footpath.
Following a meeting with residents on site last Thursday March 5, the council are now considering a beech hedge along the perimeter.
One side of the Block road will still not have complete paths, a fact criticised by Cllr Willie Aird.
“We should learn from when we signed off on the Borris road and had to go back and change things. There are going to be bigger problems in this area. We need an extension of the path, we are bringing small children five years old down that road, we are meant to encourage cycling and walking with the rise in obesity, but there are gaps where cycle lanes stop, when you start at A, it has to go to B,” he said.
He further criticized the lack of a yellow box at Chantiere Gate, and asked that the pond across from Aghnaharna be fenced off.
Mr Kehoe undertook to include those in the project.
“We will continue to engage, and have started discussions with the HSE about acquiring land to help put in a footpath,” he said.