Last week I wrote about how Donegal County Council officials are proposing to install three sets of traffic lights at Cockhill Bridge to facilitate pedestrians.
At €85,000, it was the cheapest of five options laid before councillors at last week’s Electoral Area meeting in Carndonagh. The next cheapest was a €320,000 pedestrian footbridge running parallel to the existing bridge.
Council engineers recommended the cheapest option, but drew the unfortunate comparison with the disastrous new traffic lights at McClay’s Corner in Stranorlar.
If they get their way on installing lights at Cockhill Bridge, the Council says the new traffic lights will be MOVA based, like those in Stranorlar. MOVA is able to sense traffic and keep delays to an “absolute minimum” – their words not mine.
I got a text message from a man last Friday at 4pm saying that the tailback in the Twin Towns stretched all the way from McClay’s Corner in Stranorlar to back to McElhinney’s in Ballybofey. It’s a common occurence at peak times of the day.
Just think about the distance of that tailback: it would be at least as far as Westbrook Bridge on one side and well beyond Cashel na Cor on the other side.
And yet, this is the kind of daily traffic disruption the council wants to impose at Cockhill Bridge.
Council engineers have been proposing traffic lights as the solution for years and seem determined to get their way.
It’s no solution at all, and will only make matters worse for pedestrians and vehicles alike.
We can dream about the super-dooper €3 million new bridge, properly aligned and capable of carrying two lanes of traffics as well as having footpaths for pedestrians.
Donegal County Council hasn’t even applied for funding from the Government for this bridge in 2013, and the Minister for Transport says that no such funding will be available anywhere in the State in 2014.
The only option the council should be considering is a pedestrian footbridge.
Yes, it’s €235,000 more expensive than traffic lights.
But the council has already collected €226,000 in development charges it imposed on new homes in the area, specifically to fund the construction of a new bridge.
And besides, isn’t the Revenue now collecting a Local Property Tax from every home with the money going directly to the County Council? Inishowen householders will pay an estimated €4.5 million annually under the new property tax. A proper, safe, pedestrian footbridge is small change out of that.
Next year is an election year. One wonders whether Cockhill Bridge – a bad blockage on the main artery between Buncrana and Carndonagh/Clonmany and a hazard to pedestrians – will be a real election issue.