Works at junction of Monck St, Commercial Quay and Wexford Bridge set to last three weeks
Councillors have called on local authority engineers to “monitor, monitor, monitor” to ensure disruption is minimised after a major three-weeks road contract began on Monday morning at the junction of Monck Street, Commercial Quay and Wexford Bridge, sparking fears of traffic chaos in a crucial artery of Wexford town.
Wexford County Council put up advance warning signs and contacted secondary schools, businesses, local residents and emergency services to advise them of the impact of interruptions and restrictions.
The three-week contract due to run until July 15, is part of the €750,000 Monck Street Enhancement scheme and will involve the creation of a bus set down, additional road safety features and power line and broadband ducting. Work will start at 6 am every morning and finish at 4pm each day to avoid evening rush hour traffic.
A temporary traffic management system will be in place from Monday to Friday with personnel controlling the flow of traffic and they have orders to “step in if things start to get out of hand”, according to senior executive engineer Sean Meyler.
The engineer said there will be a reduction in queuing capacity for southbound traffic coming from Redmond Square and alternative loss of the right hand filter lane to Wexford Bridge (from the Crescent direction) and of the left hand filter lane to Wexford bridge when travelling from the Redmond Square direction.
The phased work will result in periods of reduced capacity at the Wexford Bridge junction for the duration of the works and to avoid long delays, businesses are advised to arrange deliveries outside the hours of 8 am to 6 pm where possible.
Stop/go system operators will be on site to supplement the traffic light system in order to minimise delays and when possible, the temporary traffic management will be discontinued at the end of each working day.
Mr Meyler said the work was delayed to facilitate students sitting the Leaving Cert and is ready to start now that the majority of the exams are over.
“We have been in contact with all secondary schools in town and established that there were a number of students sitting exams on Monday and Tuesday. The schools agreed to forward our notice of potential traffic disruption directly to these students so they could take an alternative route, or allow additional travel time to their exam centres as a precaution.”
He said the council was communicating directly with affected businesses in the immediate vicinity and would be working with them to facilitate their needs.
The work will be carried out in three phases – from the Coalyard junction with Monck Street to Redmond car park and Redmond Square; from the old Dublin Providers building to Crown Live, and from the Crown Live back towards the Monck Street junction.
There will be various limitations on right- and left-hand turning in both directions during the work which is expected to be completed within the scheduled three weeks.
Mr Meyler told a local authority meeting that the project had been “carefully thought through” and the phasing of the work “carefully planned” to minimise the disruption to traffic.
Cllr George Lawlor welcomed the fact that a large number of “flag men” would be working to control traffic and urged the council to “monitor, monitor, monitor” as issues arise, saying any necessary measures should be implemented as quickly as possible, due to “the huge amount of traffic in that artery”.
Two days into the contract on Tuesday Cllr Lawlor said traffic management seemed to be running smoothly and “hopefully we have learned from past difficulties”.
Cllr John Hegarty said he appreciated there is no right time of the year for road works like this and accepted the council had planned the contract as thoroughly as it could.
“However, it is going to cause problems and it’s important that the flagmen are on top of of it and are proactive.
“It’s very important that the work finishes at 4pm. After that time, all the impact will be from the town side and it will be massive and will potentially log-jam the whole town. It’s important that it is monitored.”
Cllr David Hynes predicted that “Facebook will be full of it”.
“We are in the middle of the busiest season of the year and it’s going to have a major impact. The traffic control will have to be hands-on all the time. I tend to avoid the quays during the day anyway. I won’t be going down on the quay if I can help it,” he said.
Cllr Maura Bell asked about plans for a barrier in front of the shops in Slaney Place, saying business owners were concerned about the effect on deliveries.
Mayor of Wexford Garry Laffan said the council received €750,000 for the Monck Street pedestrianisation scheme and the work would have to involve a certain amount of pain.
“If there is a problem, the traffic management people will be able to step in to sort it out – it will be a judgement call for the manager who will know if the traffic is starting to build up and will take action,” said Mr Meyler.
“We will be monitoring the performance of the contract through a full-time engineer on site. Any measures that need to be taken will be taken.”
In response to Cllr Bell, he said the work will involve taking about 60mm off the existing road outside the Crown Live heading towards the Monck Street junction, to make room for a bus set down and loading bay, with set back room, a step in the pavement with a safety rail to prevent anyone falling.
Phase two will include the diversion of overhead power cables and a broadband line with a duct from the coal yard to the former Dublin Providers site.
In relation to the railing in front of commercial buildings, he said he would have to clarify whether a gap was to be left for businesses. “I think they will have to walk around the railing to access the premises but it won’t be a long distance.”