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24 May 2022

Three more roundabouts demanded on 'forgotten' busy Portlaoise road

Three more roundabouts demanded on 'forgotten' busy Portlaoise road

One of three locations requiring a roundabout in Portlaoise

Portlaoise needs three more roundabouts, on a busy road that has been "forgotten" by the state.

The Laois capital town gets a ribbing for the number of roundabouts it has, but the Mountmellick Road is earmarked for three more to make it safer for both pedestrians and local traffic.

It is two years since experts commissioned by Laois County Council recommended roundabouts to be added to the junctions at Harpur's Lane, Green Mill Lane and the Ballyfin Road, but there is still no sign of funding from Transport Infrastructure Ireland. 

Portlaoise Cllr Catherine Fitzgerald has again highlighted the need for investment on the road, which has the largest residential population in the town, but also gets huge traffic as it is a main N80 route into Portlaoise.

She tabled a motion to the February meeting of Portlaoise Municipal District, asking the council to install the roundabouts.

"People say 'oh more roundabouts for Portlaoise' but these three junctions have been crying out for years and never got funding," she said. 

"When Dunnes Stores put in their new application I can't understand why Laois County Council didn't look for a roundabout at Green Mill Lane. There is a development on Harpurs Lane too. That road has one of the biggest primary schools in Laois and is an access road to Portlaoise College. The Ballyfin road, I counted 20 cars waiting to turn there recently. 

"This is the N80 main road, how much longer do the people of the Mountmellick Road have to wait?" she said.

Laois County Council had submitted the report to the TII to ask for funding for the roundabouts, but to no avail so far. 

Cllr Caroline Dwane Stanley said she lives on the road.

"It has the biggest amount of housing and no infrastructure. I come off the Ballyfin road every morning and it's impossible to get out unless someone gives way. It's getting worse as developments take place. It's the only road in town not upgraded with roundabouts. The turn at Green Mill Lane is a death trap. I am sure if you look at the amount of accidents, it's a crash spot. There are more developments at Harpurs Lane. I hope in the next couple of months to see teeth on this and to get funding," she said.

Cllr Willie Aird agreed and said the road is not cycle friendly. 

"It is a forgotten road in Portlaoise. It all needs to be made safer," he said.

"There's actually a shortage of roundabouts in Portlaoise. The only people who complain about them are people who have access from their own estates. The Mountmellick Road is the most under serviced in town, it's the poor relation," said Cllr Noel Tuohy.  

The 2020 study by Roadplan Consulting found that map apps send drivers along the road instead of around the Portlaoise relief road. It also said that pedestrians and cyclists have difficulty crossing at junctions safely.

The report recommends a new roundabout at each of the three t-junctions to make it easier for local drivers to enter onto the N80. Each roundabout would have pedestrian crossings on every arm. The experts said that this would also discourage passing traffic from using the road because the roundabouts would slow their journey through Portlaoise.

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