A campaign group calling for a footbridge to be erected at Cockhill Bridge has reacted with anger and concern at plans for the installation of temporary traffic lights at the junction.
At Monday’s Inishowen Municipal District meeting, it was announced the Council are to install the lights at the location in a bid to “address immediate concerns.”
The councillors confirmed they have also agreed to seek a deputation to the Minister for Transport regarding funding for the new road bridge, the design for which has been completed. It will cost three million euro to construct.
In a statement read at the meetingby Cathoirleach Nicholas Crossan, the council stated the temporary lights at the existing junction will “control traffic flow to a single lane across the bridge and provide a signalised pedestrian crossing on Cockhill Road.”
Some additional pieces of footpath will also be constructed in order to “improve the path for pedestrians.”
The councillors said the lights “are a practical safety solution that can be installed in a relatively quick period.”
They added that the Gardai had been consulted on the measure and also “support” it “as an interim measure” pending the construction of the new bridge.
It was also confirmed that the Council will review and monitor the operation of the lights in the early weeks of the operation.
The new bridge is now ready to go to tender as soon as funding is confirmed. Its layout will see the realignment of the main road over the river and “eliminate” the “difficult turning manoeuvres” for lorries and buses. The councillors stated the new bridge would also include “proper footpaths” for pedestrians. In addition, the old Cockhill Bridge would remain in place and be converted to a bike/pedestrian bridge. It was confirmed added that all approvals, including planning consents and river approvals, have been in place since late 2013.
In response, Cockhill Bridge Action Group called the temporary lights a “stab in the back” for the local community, who have been campaigning for years for a footbridge.
They pointed out that a 2000 signature petition calling for such had been submitted to the council in June, followed by two demonstrations. They said that in 2005, the councillors themselves called for a pedestrian bridge and development charges for it were collected. The group told the Journal that on Monday, before the Inishowen Municipal District meeting, the Council was presented with the community’s presentation for a footbridge.
The group said the councillors have not “listened to the people.”
They said: “It looks like the Council have no idea of the volume of traffic using Cockhill Bridge.”
They added: “We call on the Council to scrap this stupid proposal and do what the local people want for a change, give us a footbridge, the cheapest, the safest and permanent solution to get our children of that dangerous bridge.”