THE most dangerous junction in Portlaoise may finally get a roundabout, after driving residents and shoppers around the bend for years.
The entrance to the Newpark estate, near Dunne’s Stores on the Mountmellick Road, was described as the town’s most dangerous junction at the latest meeting of Portlaoise municipal district.
Councillors unanimously passed a proposal that council engineers meet Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) to ‘insist’ that a roundabout be installed at the Newpark entrance, adjacent to Dunne’s Stores and Greenmill Lane. The proposal was made by cllrs Willie Aird, Catherine Fitzgerald and Noel Tuohy.
The N80 Mountmellick Road was described as ‘the forgotten area of town’ and ‘an absolute disgrace’ at the meeting in county hall.
Cllr Aird said that he wanted a meeting with TII to see who was stopping the roundabout being built. He said: “We have been looking for this for years and it should have been included in the planning permission for Dunne’s.”
Describing the junction as the most dangerous in town, cllr Catherine Fitzgerald said she found it “embarrassing” to canvass in the area before the local elections last May, as residents had been appealing for a roundabout for years, without success. She said that the council should approach Dunne’s Stores, as a roundabout would benefit both the store and the entire area.
Cllr Fitzgerald added: “I know people who will not shop there because the junction is too dangerous and they cannot get out of it. It is beyond me, given the size of the Dunne’s Stores car park, why the council did not insist at the time that a roundabout be put in. It would benefit residents, drivers, shoppers and Dunne’s Stores.”
Cllr Fitzgerald suggested that Laois Co Council approach Dunne’s Stores and ask them to discuss the issue with both the council and TII. She said: “I really feel we have been let down by road design on this. Since the first day I came into this council, we have been looking for traffic management on the Mountmellick Road. It is an absolute disgrace the way it has been left.”
Cllr Tuohy said the issue was “a hardy annual,” but residents had genuine concerns about safety. He said: “There are a lot of accidents and scrapes there and there will eventually be a serious accident there if we don’t do something now.”
Cllr Caroline Dwane Stanley felt the Mountmellick Road was “forgotten about” and said that three roundabouts were needed at Dunne’s Stores, Harpurs Lane and the Ballyfin Road, particularly with new developments in the pipeline at Hepburn Court, O’Moore Place and The Maltings.
Cllr Dwane Stanley added that further traffic calming measures were needed for the Ballyfin Road. She said: “It is one of the most built-up areas in town and most of the social housing is there, but it’s the forgotten area of town.”
Cllr Mary Sweeney said she was also “hugely embarrassed” while canvassing in the area and declared: “I am personally sick of the word TII, but we have to meet these anonymous people. There is no point in us coming to council meetings if we do not get an outcome on this.”
Acting senior engineer Farhan Nasiem confirmed that the council’s road design department would arrange a meeting with TII to discuss the installation of a number of new roundabouts on the Mountmellick Road. Dunne’s Stores will also be contacted on the issue.