The current junction where the Ballyfin Road meets the N80 Mountmellick Road
A number of Laois county councillors have called for three new roundabouts to be put in place on a busy stretch of the N80 coming in Portlaoise.
Cllr Caroline Dwane Stanley tabled a notice of motion at the Portlaoise municipal district meeting on Wednesday, requesting that three roundabouts be put in place on three ‘dangerous’ junctions on the Mountmellick road in Portlaoise.
The three junctions are where the Ballyfin Road, Green Mill Lane (Dunne’s Stores) and Harpers Lane meet the Mountmellick Road.
Cllr Caroline Dwane Stanley said she was ‘disappointed’ with the Council’s response to seek funding for this work in 2019.
“I have raised the need for three roundabouts on that road for a long number of years and I don’t seem to be able to get it any further.
“If you are coming down the Ballyfin Road and you are trying to turn right there it is absolutely impossible to get out onto the Mountmellick Road. That road has just got so busy, so built up and it is at the grace of anybody letting you out.
“It is the same up at the Dunne’s Stores area. We had a situation recently where traffic lights were ploughed out of it where an accident took place and the railing on the pedestrian side was completely put in, for luck there was nobody walking by when it happened but there is constant, constant road accidents happening particularly at the Dunnes Stores junction.
“If you are coming out from Dunnes Stores, you cannot turn right onto the road you are nearly better off going left, going up to the top square to turn around and come back down.
“Harper's Lane is the same, the yellow box has helped but nonetheless if you are coming up from Knockmay or anywhere like that it is next to impossible to get out. It is one road that badly needs those roundabouts.
“If you look at the three junctions, over the next year or so there is actually going to be a lot of activity going on there in terms of regeneration and building. Take for example O’Moore place and the plans for 34 houses there, that’s going to be extra traffic coming out onto the road so we badly need the roundabout there.
“Dunnes Stores also have their own plans there, no doubt it is needed and at Harper's Lane, you have the building that will be going on at Beechfield. There’s a case for three small little egg roundabouts there at those junctions and I am asking that the council would prioritise it for 2019 because since I came onto the town council it was one of the first issues I raised and it is still ongoing with no progress.
“That whole area has gotten built up, most of our social housing is down the Mountmellick Road end of the town,” Cllr Dwane Stanley said.
Cllr Catherine Fitzgerald agreed and said no progress has been made on one of the busiest roads in the town.
“It has always been top of the agenda over the years, I fail to understand how we haven’t, with the different planning applications that have come in over the years, not made a roundabout, especially at the Dunnes Stores junction.
“It’s one of the most dangerous junctions in the town and I’d say if you got a traffic record of accidents it would be the highest in the town, coming out of Green Mill Lane. I can’t understand for the life of me how we have never, ever, ever tackled the Mountmellick Road and roundabouts, it’s beyond me.
“I’d say the traffic count between pedestrians and motorists, it’s the busiest road in the town,” she said.
Cllr Willie Aird said there was an opportunity when Dunnes Stores looked for planning permission to include a roundabout as a condition but it was not done.
“If it’s not for the goodwill of the people who let you out on the road it would be three times as bad,” he said.
Cllr Aird also said traffic coming from Station Road is in a dangerous position when turning right as they have to come so far out to see. A mirror was in place to help with vision but he said it was vandalised.
“The most dangerous part of all, in my opinion, is when you go up to exit from the Dunnes Stores road up onto the Ridge Road. I am watching that every day and there is a lot of people, kids coming from schools coming down that way, very small children, it is an accident waiting to happen.
“With the new walkways we are going to have to look at an alternative route,” he said.
Cllr Aird said the roundabouts outside the church in Portlaoise on the N80/Dublin road are an example of how these small roundabouts can work successfully.
Cllr Noel Tuohy said Portlaoise is known as a ‘town of roundabouts’.
“We are known as a bit of a town of roundabouts but I would always like to err on the side of safety and I do think the Mountmellick Road hasn't got the benefits other roads have got and it doesn't look as well and I think it needs to be upgraded,” he said.
The written response from Laois County Council roads engineer Mr Farhan Nasiem was: “Road design will bring these proposals to TII for consideration to fund in 2019. Detail design and works will be subject to funding being available.”