*Traffic building up on the Mill Rd in Ennis this week. 

“PINCH POINTS” in parts of Ennis town have led to local councillors seeking a synched-up system regarding traffic lights in the county capital.

Former Clare TD, James Breen has raised the need to sort out the traffic lights in Ennis when speaking to The Clare Echo while Cllr Mary Howard (FG) appealed to the Ennis Municipal District “to improve the flow of traffic at busy times” within the town.

Following consultation with the Council’s “traffic lights providers,” acting senior executive engineer Ian Chaplin confirmed, “it is possible to link the traffic lights in the town but this is now considered old technology. Linking would have been in operation historically when other traffic light solutions were not available”.

He explained that on the Kilrush Rd/Carmody St junction, the traffic lights are operated by a microprocessor optimised vehicle actuation (MOVA) “which has four pedestrian crossing elements as well as right turn filters and vehicle actuated loops on each approach. MOVA junctions operate at approximately twenty percent greater efficiency than vehicle actuated (VA) junctions. The controller for the lights is adaptive depending on the demands called for by vehicles on each approach and also pedestrians attempting to cross”.

Chaplin said “linked systems are less pedestrian friendly in that they do not operate as quickly to meet the demand or call to cross from the pedestrian when the push button is placed because the priority in a linked system is to keep traffic flowing in a particular direction. Also with linked systems capacity would drop overall at the junction”.

With traffic flow changing throughout the day, Chaplin recommended the MOVA system was “much more suited to the changing requirements”.

Coinciding with the return of schools and ongoing works in parts of the town has resulted in “pinch points at morning and evening time,” Cllr Howard stated. O’Connell Street, the Mill Rd and the Market area is where the issues are arising, she said.

Mayor of the Ennis MD, Cllr Clare Colleran Molloy (FF) clarified that the existing system was “more pedestrian friendly”. In response, the senior engineer outlined, “that would be the case, it is possible to link the lights on Carmody St but that would be a historic way of trying to create more throughput but there is better systems there now. There would be repercussions for other motorists travelling in other directions and pedestrians would be waiting longer,” he added of alternating the system.

Improvements to pedestrian crossings in the last decade have had “a lot of money” spent on them, Cllr Johnny Flynn (FG) observed, “I think protecting the pedestrian and vulnerable user is important”. He voiced his opposition to closing O’Connell St to traffic “when it is not needed for the next five to six months when there isn’t construction work, we need to allow traffic for a short period after Christmas to reduce traffic on outer roads and allow the town to breathe, we don’t need to pedestrianise when there is no construction work”.

While supporting the proposal, Cllr Pat Daly (FF) recalled a recent motion of his seeking a right turn on the Clare Rd similar to what exists on Carmody St. Responding to this, Chaplin said that following a survey the existing “tight junction” emerged as a difficulty, “the matter might be referred to road design to see if they can come up with a solution, it is still being tossed around”.

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If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

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