Traffic chiefs under fire as city grinds to a halt

TRAFFIC chiefs in Cork were under fire yesterday after the city ground to a standstill as the €100 million Christmas shopping spree stepped up a gear.

Broken traffic lights caused huge jams at the Kinsale Road roundabout during early morning and evening rush hour.

Traffic was backed up on the western approaches as far as Bishopstown, and on the eastern approaches as far as Douglas.

The city centre was gridlocked for up to three hours yesterday morning. On street queuing for the Roches Stores car park on Parnell Place caused severe congestion. It also affected South Mall, Grand Parade, Merchants’ Quay, and Washington Street.

Traffic lights were out of action in Ballyvolane on one of the busiest junctions on the north ring road.

Garda chiefs last night said extra resources will be deployed in the city this morning as part of Operation Freeflow.

Motorcycle gardaí will also monitor the suburban shopping centres at Douglas, Mahon, Blackpool, Bishopstown and Wilton, Inspector Pat Lehane of the traffic corps said.

Six gardaí were on point duty at the Kinsale Road roundabout at rush hour yesterday where traffic lights have been on the blink since last Thursday.

Inspector Lehane said he has been liaising with engineers on site to get the lights fixed. But he said it is a difficult junction for gardaí to manage.

“The gardaí on duty on each of the exits can’t see each other,” he said.

An engineer on the flyover project said his staff are helping Traffic Solutions Limited who are trying to fix the problem.

Inspector Lehane warned that motorists sitting in queues outside car parks will be moved on.

He appealed to motorists to use the city’s park-and- ride services from Black Ash or County Hall.

The Cork Business Association said there has been a huge influx of shoppers.

“Cork’s new city centre has proved a winner. We’re getting an influx of shoppers from Waterford and Kerry,” spokesman James O’Sullivan said.

“People should be patient but they must also realise they can’t block lanes while queuing for car parks.”

Der Calnan, chairman of the city’s biggest taxi firm, Cork Taxi Co-Op, called for the establishment of a traffic forum involving city council traffic engineers and taxi drivers. “The guys driving the streets every day have something to contribute,” he said.

Meanwhile, plans were being finalised yesterday for the placing of massive 90-tonne beams to carry a flyover over the Kinsale Road roundabout.

Work is due to start next Tuesday.

A new slip road for Grange/Frankfield which opens at 10am this morning should ease congestion.

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