CONTRACTORS have started work to erect a screen on one of the country’s busiest sections of road in order to stop motorists rubbernecking to catch a glimpse of Douglas Village Shopping Centre being demolished.
Motorists have been slowing down and rubbernecking on the N40 South Ring flyover through the town in recent weeks to catch sight of the ongoing demolition project at the shopping centre which suffered a devastating fire in its multi-storey car park in August.
This has caused traffic delays and increased the risk of accidents.
Garda Superintendent Colm O’Sullivan confirmed to Cork city’s Joint Policing Committee that contractors have started work on erecting a screen spanning the length of the shopping centre and said this should reduce the possibility of road traffic collisions.
Demolition works started last month but Fine Gael senator Jerry Buttimer believes the owners of the building should never have been allowed to start demolition without erecting a screen first.
“They should never have been allowed to start the work without there being planning for a screen. Anybody who has travelled the N40 since the dreadful fire will know that people are stopping and going and stopping and going.
“It’s only a miracle that nobody has been killed. I welcome the announcement but I ask that there is a stay on the work until the screen is erected because there will be somebody killed.
“It is particularly dangerous in the morning time because I travel that way to my office in Douglas every morning. I repeat, it's a miracle somebody hasn’t been killed,” Mr Buttimer added.
Sinn Féin TD Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire said it should have been anticipated that drivers would be distracted by the works.
“Your eye is drawn to it, it’s a natural impulse. I do understand it but it is causing issues and we need to take steps to avoid it. It is causing delays and potential road traffic dangers where people can be distracted,” he added.
The demolition work, which is being overseen by Loftus Demolition, will see an area of the shopping centre that is equivalent to around 12% of the floor area dismantled before being rebuilt.
The idea for a screen to block the view of the shopping centre was originally mooted by Labour representative Peter Horgan.
“The rubbernecking is incredible ever since the demolition began and is unlikely to stop without any intervention,” he explained.
“Motorists are slowing right down and causing serious delays backing up towards Carr’s Hill and towards the tunnel on some rush hour peaks.” “A simple cover would reduce this and I am sure there are plenty of engineering brains involved in this project to devise one,” said Mr Horgan.