It will come as no surprise to any of you, that traffic is an issue regularly raised at the doors of Clonakilty; with the town continuing to grow, the number of vehicles that pass through the Clon is constantly on the rise. Unfortunately the road network in the town was never designed to handle this level of traffic.

The recently-implemented one-way system on McCurtain Hill and Patrick’s Hill, has gone some way to alleviating congestion at occur at Astna Square, but it has had knock-on effects in other areas that need to be addressed.

Residents on the right-hand side of McCurtain Hill, who would in the past have parked their cars facing downhill, to avoid having their driver’s door pressed against the embankment, no longer have this option, and older residents in particular are now struggling to enter and exit their vehicles safely. I will encourage the Council to look at the possibility of redesigning the footpaths and embankments on this side of the hill to ensure the safety of residents, without damaging the appearance and character of the street.

Meanwhile, traffic from the North and West of the town, seeking to avoid the one-way system, is increasingly flowing into areas like Tawnies Crescent, often at excessive speeds. Residents in Tawnies are deeply concerned that children in the area, cycling or making their way to play in the green, will some day be struck by a motorist speeding through the estate. They have made their own efforts to erect signs warning motorists of the danger, but these have been ignored and even removed. I support the residents’ calls for speed control measures to be implemented immediately.

As for traffic congestion, the Clonakilty “bypass” has not been fit for purpose for over 20 years. The road runs through a very built-up part of the town, in particular at Fairfield, with homes, the playground and Scoil na mBuachaillí all needing access to the area, as well as a large volume of through-traffic. These traffic jams cause inconvenience and delays, obstruction to emergency vehicles, and air pollution right on people’s doorsteps.

With traffic from a recycling centre, an industrial estate, three large housing developments, and a soon-to-open fire station needing to negotiate the triangular junction at the Western end of town, congestion is now likely to build up on both ends of the bypass. If elected, I will be very vocal in calling for a roundabout at this location.

As well as these immediately apparent issues, traffic seeking to avoid these delays is pushed out to other areas of the town and hinterland. People in Fernhill, Tawnies and Shannonvale are sick and tired of seeing high volumes of vehicles driving at ridiculously high speeds through their neighbourhoods, as the drivers race to and from their destinations without a thought for the lives they endanger.

It’s time we start thinking big on issues like this; traffic congestion in Clonakilty is already entirely unacceptable, and as it worsens, it will have a terrible impact on living standards and the commercial viability of the town. For decades, the idea of a Northern bypass has been thrown around – a road linking the Eastern section of the N71, from Gullane – near the Joe Walsh walkway, to its Western section, near the GAA complex at Ahamilla. It’s time that this was taken seriously. A project like this takes years to even get to the planning stage, let alone completion. We need to get the planning, funding and land acquisition process underway immediately, before our town is suffocated by traffic.