Cork County Council engineers and consultants Arup have come up with a series of proposals to ease traffic gridlock in Little Island.
They said that the works should be carried out quickly, before Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) starts a €100m upgrade of the nearby Jack Lynch Tunnel/Dunkettle interchange.
More than 7,000 workers are employed in Little Island, with the vast majority driving to and from work.
Peter O’Donoghue, the council’s senior engineer in charge of traffic and transport, said he believes the plans “will significantly reduce queuing” at peak times.
The plans include the creation of an additional traffic lane on the flyover, to be achieved by reducing the width of footpaths.
It is proposed to introduce another approach lane, heading north from Ballytrasna, from Eastgate industrial estate to the Eastgate roundabout.
Mr O’Donoghue said traffic modelling studies by Arup show this would speed up car movements.
A number of submissions on the proposals have been received from local groups and individuals, especially about the lack of cycle lanes and the reduction in the width of the flyover footpaths.
Councillors have also expressed concern about these issues.
Mr O’Donoghue said the council is preparing a separate study focusing on the needs of cyclists and pedestrians in Little Island. This will be completed in the next few weeks.
It is also likely that a number of new pedestrian crossings would be introduced in the area.
“We will give a commitment that the issue of pedestrian safety will be dealt with appropriately,” said Mr O’Donoghue. “We’re not going to ignore pedestrian safety. It will be dealt with to the highest possible standard at the detailed design stage.”
Fine Gael councillor Anthony Barry said he was glad to hear the pedestrian concerns will be resolved.
“We have a train station in Little Island, which unfortunately isn’t being used as much as it should be and we need to look at that again,” said Mr Barry.
Mr O’Donoghue said traffic queuing would be monitored along the old N25 through Glounthaune village.
Mr Barry said he was concerned that when work starts on upgrading the Jack Lynch Tunnel/Dunkettle interchange, motorists will pile through Glounthaune to avoid it, using “rat runs” down through the villages of Watergrasshill and Knockraha.
He said he is still of the opinion that the only way to solve traffic jams in Little Island is to open up a new entrance off the N25 at the Cobh Cross side of Little Island.
A landowner in that area has offered the use of some of his land to construct that road.
“People living in Little Island don’t see any gain for themselves [with these plans]. They’ve been ignored for generations in favour of industries,” said Independent councillor Kieran McCarthy.
Mr O’Donoghue acknowledged this is not the complete solution to Little Island’s traffic problems.
He said engineers are also preparing a report looking at all “transport modes” in the area.
It is expected the addition of extra lanes in Little Island will be completed by early 2019 at the latest.