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Do Westport’s traffic plans cut the mustard, or spread the jam?

De Facto

De Facto
Liamy MacNally

There are plans to introduce new traffic laws in Westport. The areas affected include The Cottages (making a one-way system), The Pond at The Quay (one-way) and The Octagon (one-way in front of the Wyatt Hotel).
The residents of The Cottages know best what will work for them. One can only presume that they will have been contacted by Mayo County Council and advised of plans, with a request for submissions. Not everyone might be aware of the public notices (that are most difficult to find on the council website, if they exist there at all).
The advantage of the proposal is that there will only be one, rather than two exit roads onto the Quay Road. Is this the preferred choice of the residents?
On to The Quay and The Pond where the plan is to make it one-way from The Towers around The Pond and exit at The Helm. This makes sense if for no other reason than it is so difficult and dangerous to exit from the Pond via The Towers. You have to edge out almost halfway across the road to get a view of oncoming traffic from Rosbeg.
Making the road one-way will sort that problem out. It will also reduce the danger of turning right outside The Helm to head down to The Point. Sometimes traffic from town can almost end up on top of traffic turning right at The Helm junction.
Such a plan would also allow for enhanced pedestrian works at The Idle Wall and between the junctions of the Point and Westport House. Putting in wider footpaths, like outside the Harbour Mill Apartments and The Coast Hotel, would further improve the area. Local knowledge is essential so local residents and business owners would be the best to consult.
The other proposed change is at The Octagon, making the traffic in front of the Wyatt Hotel one-way. It appears to be a good idea, except… It looks like the proposed traffic flow is going the wrong way! The proposal is to make the traffic flow one-way, clockwise, from The Cobbler’s to An File (Dunnings).  
This will create some difficulty for one simple reason. Every motorist will have to continue the journey down James Street. In effect, it means that all those coming in from The Quay or down Peter Street and wishing to drop people at The Wyatt Hotel or Westport Town Hall will have to drive around the town to get home.
This not only adds to their own journey but also adds to the traffic around the town. It would seem to be easier to make the one-way traffic flow anti-clockwise. That would allow traffic to enter at An File and exit at The Cobbler’s. That way people would not have to drive around the town again.
It would also facilitate motorists crossing over from the front of the town hall, via An File, towards The Wyatt Hotel. That traffic movement is already an established practice. Proper road marking could facilitate it so that traffic manoeuvres quite easily and makes it safer for all concerned. Perhaps council planners/engineers have a good reason for wanting this section of The Octagon to be clockwise when anti-clockwise appears to support better traffic management.
Over the next few weeks Westport traffic will feature on council agendas. It is an annual outing! It is as natural as the arrival of the swallows – tailbacks in Westport with more talk, sweetness and desert air…
Those of us who live out the Castlebar Road know what tailbacks are. Repeated requests to turn off the traffic lights at the Distillery Road/Castlebar Street junction fall on deaf ears. Even if it were done and traffic movement observed with results published it would give us some indication as to the effectiveness of the traffic lights.
There are also concerns with traffic at Scoil Phádraig on the Newport Road. Parents are urged to examine the new proposals. Residents and business people can also check the proposed changes, which are all available in the council offices on Altamont Street (or Station Road, as some public notices state!)  
And not a word about parking charges! That’s for another day!