Workers regularly complain about being stuck in major traffic jams, while residents say the congestion at peak times makes them prisoners in their own homes.
One of the county’s industrial powerhouses is grinding to a halt because of poor infrastructure, but it is hoped that a plan being prepared by Cork County Council and its consultants will ease the situation in Little Island.
Figures from Census 2011 show there were 5,700 people employed in businesses there and 1,050 residents.
Little Island does not have a direct bus service, but does have a railway station. However, a survey, also carried out six years ago, found that just 3% of people working there used public transport. Some 90% used cars to get to work, with 6% walking and 1% cycling.
Nearly 2,000 cars travel in and out of Little Island at peak times, leading to major congestion.
The first round of public consultation on the Little Island Transportation Study took place yesterday at the local Radisson Blu Hotel.
Niall O’Callaghan, project administrator for the council, said engineers are developing options which will be tested on a traffic model aimed at easing the logjam.
He said: “There will be a number of preferred solutions, not just one magic bullet. We will be taking note of what residents, industries, haulage operators, the gardaí, TII [Transport Infrastructure Ireland], and the NTA [National Transport Authority] say.”
Michael Mulcahy, chief executive of Little Island Business Association (LIBA), said there are 1,000 businesses in the area, ranging from multinationals such as Pfizer to one-man operations.
He said that while he welcomed the council’s initiative, he is urging all his members and local residents to tell the project team the only real solution is the creation of an entrance on the eastern side of Little Island, near Cobh Cross. This will require the agreement of TII, which has control of the national primary road.
Huge tracts of land are zoned there for future commercial and industrial development, and LIBA members say they cannot be developed properly without a sliproad being opened on the eastern side.
Mr Mulcahy said he recognised the needs of residents and that a balance has to be made between industrial development and householders in any future traffic plans.
John Kelly, who has lived in Little Island for 14 years, said he and the 1,000 residents there were often “prisoners” in their own homes because of the traffic gridlock.
“Schoolchildren and the elderly are in mortal danger from the traffic here,” said Mr Kelly.
It is hoped the transport study will be presented to local municipal district councillors for their approval next month and shortly afterwards there will be a second public consultation.
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