Sligo road provides little relief as predicted

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    • #708111
      Paul Clerkin

      read it and weep

      Sligo road provides little relief as predicted

      Sligo’s newly opened ‘inner relief road’ has turned out to be every bit as bad as its opponents feared, writes Frank McDonald, Environment Editor.

      Sligo county and town manager Hubert Kearns has said its new inner relief road “will greatly enhance the urban environment for people to reside, work in or visit” Sligo town. Officially opened last Friday, it cost €74 million to build.

      The 4.5km dual carrigeway from Carrowroe roundabout on the N4 to Hughes Bridge had been bitterly opposed by many local people because of the damage it would do to Sligo’s urban fabric. More than 50 houses had to be demolished to make way for it.

      Cutting through a mesh of older streets, the road is fronted along much of its length by concrete walls faced in sandstone panels and limestone-clad pillars. The walls are generally two metres high, but in some places reach five.

      Although the current Sligo and Environs Development Plan describes the route as an “urban street”, not a single building actually addresses it; one apartment scheme under construction is being built right behind the wall, with no frontage to the road.

      Along much of its length, there simply is not room for new buildings to provide proper street frontages. Surviving terraces of houses facing on to the highway or backing on to it are all fronted by the walls that line it, as if penned in to protect them from the traffic.

      Footpaths vary considerably in width, from three metres on the east side of the dual carriageway to barely more than a metre in places on the west side. Junctions with John Street and Adelaide Street would be very difficult to negotiate with a wheelchair.

      Jagged edges of buildings and boundary walls, as well as a projecting ESB substation and random poles and trees, make the road particularly hazardous for blind people, even though the latest technology has been installed at pedestrian crossings.

      Just like the West Link in Belfast, surviving parts of the urban fabric on either side of it visibly testify to the damage it has caused.

      Sinn Féin’s constituency office, which was once a mid-terrace building, now stands at the edge of the road with only a corner shop beside it.

      “Bringing a road like this through here was insane”, said shopkeeper Michael Langan. “With all of these busy streets crossing it, there are backlogs of traffic, so how does that make sense? It’s really all about the bigger picture, the land being bought up out the road.”

      A 14-storey hotel adjoining the Carrowroe roundabout already has planning permission, while a 12-acre “prime landmark development site” adjoining the Summerhill roundabout was recently acquired for €16 million by Dublin-based developer, Treasury Holdings.

      Out-of-town shopping centres, retail warehouses, office blocks and even a bowling alley are among the proposals floated by other developers for sites opened up by the dual carriageway. Landfilling is also taking place on the old N4 for other schemes.

      Most of the leftover sites along the road through the town centre are triangular, due to its alignment. Hard surfaces are everywhere, with only one small space for grass. The lime trees planted along the central median of the dual carriageway are withering.

      There is no sign of the promised “civic plaza” at the railway station, which is located just west of the new road. At Summerhill College, a paved area for dropping off and collecting students has been provided; temporary fencing protects them from the traffic.

      Local people say the main shopping area, O’Connell Street, has been quieter since the road opened last Friday, although it has yet to be pedestrianised as planned. Certainly, most of the juggernaut trucks seem to be using the new route.

      The scheme was approved by Noel Dempsey, then minister for the environment, in 2000 when it was estimated to cost €23 million, less than a third of the final bill. Few believe it alone will “solve” the town’s traffic problems.

    • #761219

      Thank you Paul for initiating a thread on one of Ireland’s forgotten towns. Knowing intimately the road in question, I can report that the construction of the inner relief road has resulted in little or no relief! It appears that much traffic is still using the old and very narrow Adelaide Street that runs parallel to the new route. This road has, incredibly, taken ALL traffic going along the west coast to Donegal and northern Ireland for the last decade and longer. To put it in perspective, Adelaide St. is about 6m wide, has two narrow lanes and cuts straight through old nineteenth century streets. There are a number of major junctions and crossroads along the street, none of which have pedestrian crossings. The traffic lights are co-ordinated so that at NO point do pedestrians have any time to cross. In short, imagine all of the Galway-Limerick-Cork traffic heading to Derry through such a narrow route. Only a few months ago an old woman was killed by a truck crossing at one of those cross-roads. Everyone imagined the inner relief road (IRR) would bring sanity to the situation. It hasn’t. As a result, Sligo is a mess – many of the houses along Adelaide Street and Lord Edward St. are now derelict and boarded up, many of 19th century houses on adjoining streets are still rocking to the roll of the trucks and are encrusted with filth. Sligo Corporation has shown no respect for its citizens and, in particular, its elderly. The IRR may yet improve the situation, but it seems that it is too little too late (it has taken about 20 years of discussions to get this road built – I am not exaggerating). Indeed, even while residents were still awaiting the results of their protests and objections to the road, Sligo Corporation was clearing the route and demolishing 19th century protected warehouses near the docks as they were allegedly a danger to the public (the fact that they only demolished those along the actual route of the road and left equally ‘dangerous’ warehouses as they were is a telling tale of development in Sligo). Agreed, the Corporation faced difficult choices – it is not easy to bypass Sligo as there is a lake on one side and Carrowmore megalithic cemetery on the other – the options are limited. However, as I said in another thread, development in Ireland is limited to 2 dimensions. A tunnel under the western or eastern part of Sligo (it would only have to have been about 1km long) would have solved the problem for everyone. No, of course money was an issue as was the ‘do you think its Los Angeles yer living in’ mentality. As with everything else, the flat-earth society came to the rescue and now we have a lovely dual carriage way cutting right through the down and leaving dereliction and filth behind it. I hope this road does what it said on the tin and relieves Sligo of its developmental misery, but I fear it will not. If people want a laugh and to see planning and development at its worst, the research the history of this particular road development and visit Yeats’s ‘Land of Heart’s Desire’.

    • #761220

      The obvious thing to do for Sligo was to build a proper orbital route to the East of the town to effectively link the N14 Donegal/Derry and N16 Enniskillen/Belfast with the N4 Dublin/Midlands & N17 West/South.

      This type of scheme was considered to be unacceptable in urban planning circles fully 15 years ago for all the effects listed in the article and recent Athy inner relief road refusal indicates that this route will probably be the last of its kind.

      The cost over-runs cannot be justified on this one as the scheme proponenets knew the level of CPO required to secure the route and that the market was rising and the level of severence it would inflict on so many plots rendering them useless. This is probably the most destructive urban road project since the High St scheme in Dublin in the 1980’s.

    • #761221

      The road has no real purpose from what I seen from the map.

      It was pointless to build this so-called inner relief road,
      When the new road still joins back onto the existing N4 Bridge and only creating back up on the new dual road.

      I have not yet been on it, but it does appear to have very little use as a “bypass”
      The West link though is absolutely destructible agreed on that but designed a hell of lot better to get through traffic out of the city centre, not like the Sligo less relief rd, 🙁

      They should have made a new bridge and rejoin north of Sligo town instead of have the state of the art road still travelling through some old existing sections.
      And of course with the amount of development noted, It wont’ solve traffic problems of the future either.
      Considering the cost and the impact of this new road, is going to cause mayhem.

      Typical Irish solutions to an Irish problem.

    • #761222

      @Thomond Park wrote:

      The obvious thing to do for Sligo was to build a proper orbital route to the East of the town to effectively link the N14 Donegal/Derry and N16 Enniskillen/Belfast with the N4 Dublin/Midlands & N17 West/South.

      There is really only about one point east of Sligo town where an orbital road could have been built (ie near Doorly Park for those of you who know Sligo). It would have involved building a bridge through an otherwise quite scenic natural area. A tunnel under the Garavogue would have solved that problem.The next option would have been to go further east, past Lough Gill, in which case you are already into Leitrim and are about 15km east of Sligo. Yes, this might have taken through-traffic staright to the north, but it would still have required a link road into the centre of the town for non-through traffic. Sligo is a reasonably busy town and is a destination in its own right for quite a lot of traffic from the south – this was the argument for the inner relief road, ie so that it would carry both through and non-through traffic. There is no doubt, options were limited. I genuinely feel that this is one situation where a short tunnel under part of the town could have been an ideal solution. Sligo has stagnated considerably due to the nearly 20 year wait for a relief road and is in an architectural and developmental mess at the moment. It is such a shame as this is a town in one of the most scenic areas of the country that could have been built up into a perfect tourist atttraction. Because of a Government that has no concept of anything northwest of Mullingar and a local authority in Sligo that truly verges on the farcical, Sligo is probably one of the most derelict towns in Ireland. What a terrible shame.

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