Cork traffic congestion: ‘We have no plan B. If the tunnel is broken up with an accident, there’s chaos’

Commuters have reported long tailbacks, delays, and frustration with understanding the new system at Dunkettle, which opened on Sunday
Cork traffic congestion: ‘We have no plan B. If the tunnel is broken up with an accident, there’s chaos’

Traffic on the N40. Pic: Larry Cummins FILE PIC

CALLS for better signage and information on the Dunkettle Interchange, and a northern ring road that could relieve pressure, have been made by politicians across Cork City.

Commuters have reported long tailbacks, delays, and frustration with understanding the new system at Dunkettle, which opened on Sunday. However, Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) said initial disruption is likely given the complexity and sophistication of the junction.

Cork South Central senator Jerry Buttimer said there are a number of major issues.

“I am critical of the approach signage and the messaging around the new lane options at Dunkettle,” said Mr Buttimer. “I think the city council and the TII have to revisit it with an information campaign around the tunnel.”

He said channelling of all traffic coming from the tunnel and going to Little Island through one lane “needs to be revisited” and that, coming from the Bishopstown side, “the whole place has ground to a halt at key times of the day”.

“The advance messaging is not clear. There needs to be a whole promotional campaign around giving people information on the new layout,” he said.

“The wider picture from the city council-TII perspective is that we have no north-south link at all.”

PLAN B

Thirdly, “we have no plan B when it comes to traffic management on the N40. If the tunnel is broken up with an accident, there’s chaos.”

Labour Party Cllr John Maher lives close to Dunkettle. He said people need to plan their journey according to the changes and there was a need for a relief road on the northside.

“The northern relief road would not just be for the northside, it would balance the whole of Cork City. People from the southside need to access the northside, and vice versa.”

Maher said it would take out thousands of articulated trucks going through Mayfield, the Glen, and Ballyvolane every day.

A TII spokesperson said any changes on a junction as complex as Dunkettle will result in disruption initially, for two main reasons.

“Firstly, the traffic signal system on the interchange is very sophisticated, and has been calibrated over a period of time to maximise throughput. A consequence of this is that when changes are made, optimising the signals for the new layout is an iterative process of tweaking green and red times in response to traffic volumes.

“Secondly, the scale of the changes over the weekend are such that the adjustment in driver behaviour required is quite significant. The project team have carried out extensive advance notification of the changes to pre-warn people as much as possible.

“It is to be expected however that some motorists will find the changes daunting or confusing and this has been observed on-site to result in behaviours that limit throughput at the signals, including late changing of lanes, vehicles on the interchange blocking across those on a green light, and hesitancy at green traffic signals,” said the spokesperson.

A spokesperson for the Traffic Corps in Ballincollig Garda Station said they are monitoring the situation.

Spokesperson for AA Roadwatch Ireland, Paddy Comyn, said their advice is to leave extra time on the journey, “as delays are very likely while people get used to this new and rather confusing layout. Don’t take risks to make a turn if you get it wrong, and be patient with other drivers as some users are finding this new layout very tricky.”

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