By Lynda Kiernan firstname.lastname@example.org @laoisnews
This autumn over 2,200 Portlaoise schoolchildren will begin classes all on the same road, when the twoHoly Family schools open for 1400 pupils at Aughnaharna.
Already on the Portlaoise Southern Circular Route, the Gaelscoil, Educate Together and Maryboro NS have over 800 pupils in the Summerhill Campus.
Cllr Caroline Dwane Stanley has predicted 'a traffic nightmare'.
“It's going to be chaotic,” she said at the July council meeting, while Cllr Willie Aird said ” I don’t know what’s going to happen to all the kids who were walking to school on the Borris road, they won’t walk to Summerhill”.
Portlaoise Parish Priest Monsignor John Byrne in reply has said it is instead “a shift” of traffic.
“Naturally there will be a traffic scenario, but it has to be appreciated that this is not new traffic. It is a shifting of the problem. These cars have been delivering children to schools in the middle of town. There is a traffic management plan,” he said.
Responding to Cllr Aird's fear that less children will walk to school, Msgr Byrne said not many did anyway.
“I do'nt know the figures he has to back that up. We have done surveys, and there wasn't a huge number walking to St Paul's. However Aughnaharna is a growing residential area, and Summerhill,” he said.
The parish schools were planned before Summerhill was planned and rapid built by the Dept of Education.
He is encouraging children to walk and cycle.
“I would love to think a substantial amount would come by bike or walk, that would be preferable, but the reality is the majority are dropped by car. There are facilities to cycle, it would be safe.,” he said.
The Holy Family schools are scheduled to open on August 31, as are the Gaelscoil and Portlaoise Educate Together NS.