— People currently have to dash across 10 metre wide motorway slip turns.
Coolock Interchange, a junction which links Coolock Lane to the M50 motorway, is to be signalised to make it safer for people walking and cycling.
“With the Coolock Interchange, at the time it was built, pedestrians coming across here wasn’t really part of the planning,” said Brendan O’Brien, the head of traffic at Dublin City Council.
He said: “Typically what you see on the roundabout is people running across the road to try and get across because this interchange provides a link between Santry and Coolock. It also has no facilities for mobility-impaired or disabled pedestrians. If you’re fit enough you might be able to make it across, but if you’re not, you’re never going to make it across the road.”
He told councillors, at a recent local area council meeting, that the plans have been agreed between Dublin City Council, Fingal County Council, Transport Infrastructure Ireland and the National Transport Authority.
It’s expected that the work on the interchange, just north of the northern Port Tunnel portal, will start over the summer and that the traffic lights will be operational by October. It would include toucan crossings, which are for pedestrians and cyclists combined.
O’Brien said that it was an “anomaly” that there was no solution planned until now.
Cllr Alison Gilliland (Labour) said that she had lobbied for this change because people have been almost killed at the junction and said that she knows somebody who has lost her dogs while crossing. She also asked about the expected impact on traffic given that there is a large development being constructed nearby.
Cllr Larry O’Toole (Sinn Féin) said that the plan was very much appreciated, but questioned why paths leading up to the crossings were not being upgraded.
“The paths won’t be improved? I’m disappointed. What I visualised more was the paths improved. When you cross the bridge it it’s only a little ridge of a thing with a bad surface — I visualised a pedestrian and cycling facility going across there,” he said.
He asked that officials to look at it again, but welcomed any improvement.
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Cllr Donna Cooney (Greens) said the current design: “It splits up communities, doesn’t make it safe for people to be able to walk and cycle, and it says to people ‘if you live here you need to get into your car to fly around this roundabout’.”
She echoed Cllr O’Toole’s point that the paths also need to be upgraded.
Cllr Patricia Roe (SocDems) said many of the councillors had asked for the work but asked about the idea of having signalisation on a roundabout, which she said was “unusually enough”. She said all of the councillors are aware of motorists breaking red lights in their areas and that she wouldn’t want to see that happening here.
Cllr John Lyons (independent) said: “It’s a wild west for people pedestrians and anybody cycling to make their way from Santy to Kilmore or vice versa. [The plan] is very much welcome.”
He said that a public information campaign was needed to help motorists with the transition between the current free-flow danger and having traffic lights.
O’Brien added: “In terms of traffic impacts, it’s something we discussed quite a bit with TII… there were two conclusions: one, that we could not really not do it, the days of us saying that we cannot put in a pedestrian crossing because it is going to cause traffic problems is not tenable. But the second thing, TII may have some scope to do some work on the off-ramp to try to alleviate some of the potential issues.”
He said that the paths around the crossing and any areas that needed attention would be looked at but that the project was not meant to be a “big scheme” which “may come later on”.
O’Brien said that there are other examples of pedestrian crossings on M50 interchange roundabouts and that they would run a publicity drive before the lights are switched on.