PLANNERS have been accused of increasing the risk of traffic jams in one of Co Cork’s worst bottlenecks for motorists.
Concern has been voiced about the number of houses being granted planning permission in Castlemartyr, which is a nightmare for motorists at peak times.
Fears of an even more congested village were heightened in the past few days after Cork Co Council approved a €55 million housing project there.
Limerick-based Chieftain Construction was granted permission to construct a mixed development of 200 homes, a crèche, and two sports pitches in the townland of Gotnahomna More.
Castlemartyr is an attractive proposition for developers, located a few miles from Midleton and within easy reach of a planned new commuter rail line to Cork — expected to become operational in early 2009.
However. there are fears the road infrastructure will not adequately cope with the increasing traffic demands.
Castlemartyr-based FG Deputy David Stanton said, like many residents, he was extremely concerned at housing development outpacing road improvements.
“Castlemartyr can experience very lengthy delays at peak time and this is going to get worse with more housing in the area. People are taking to narrow county roads to avoid the village and this is creating its own problem. We need to fast-track a bypass,” the Fine Gael TD said.
A Cork County Council spokeswoman admitted yesterday that it could be some years even before the local authority was in a position to start construction of a bypass.
Engineers want to build a new road from Midleton which will skip both Castlemartyr and Killeagh before hooking up with the existing Youghal bypass.
“The proposed project is a good bit down the road. We have received a small amount of money (from the Department of Environment) for a study on a proposed new road. This will take about a year-and-a-half to complete. Then we will have to select a route corridor and route options and it could be another two years before the optimum route is decided upon,” the spokeswoman said.
After that, construction will be dependent on obtaining funding from the department.
In the meantime, the National Roads Authority (NRA) is preparing to carry out traffic calming and other improvement works in Castlemartyr. They will get underway next month.
Although urgent, the work is likely to lead to some disruption and more delays for motorists.
The NRA is also planning to resurface the village’s main street.