In Finglas, Pedestrian Traffic Signals Installed Last Year for More than €200,000 Remain Off, Unused

Large orange bags cover the traffic signals above Niamh Hussey’s head.

So, ignoring the beg button on the signal pole, she looks up and down Glasnevin Avenue, and hops across the road during a brief gap in the traffic of cars passing her by.

“It’s very fast moving so it’s probably not the safest to walk across like I just did,” she says.

But there is no other way to make it across, given how the new, yet still hooded, traffic signals aren’t working.

The traffic lights were installed at three arms of the four-arm junction, where Glasnevin Avenue meets Beneavin Road, last summer, says Fianna Fáil Councillor Briege Mac Oscar.

They cost €233,480, said the chief executive in a written response to a query from Mac Oscar. And they’re still off.

The council said it needs space in the car park to install signal “loops” to detect cars, but she’s not certain, says Mac Oscar. “The lack of presentation of information to local representatives has just been incredibly poor.”

Dublin City Council has not yet responded to queries sent last Wednesday asking why the traffic lights aren’t yet turned on.

What’s The Need?

This junction is difficult for both drivers and pedestrians, says Hussey.

There’s already one set of working traffic lights and a pedestrian crossing to the east of where the top of Beneavin Road hits Glasnevin Avenue. But there’s no signals elsewhere, or yellow box stopping cars on Glasnevin Avenue from blocking the entrances.

So cars trying to join Glasnevin Avenue have to rely on a driver to pause to let them in or for a gap in the traffic, says Hussey.

“It’s difficult to get out,” she says. “And there’d be a lot of kids around, especially first thing in the morning. There’s quite a bit of traffic on towards Finglas village.”

As a pedestrian trying to cross, “It’s a bit frustrating that you have to stand there for ages.”

Pulling into the Tesco car park is hard too, says Denise King, who is hurrying across it with her car keys jangling in her hands. “There’s a lot of traffic here also just with the way they’ve just broken up things and the bollards there.”

A row of low black bollards that separates the car park from the footpaths makes it hard to reverse out of some parking spaces, and everyone gets squished when it’s busy, she says.

Mary Callaghan, a Social Democrats councillor, says the junction and car park are claustrophobic and confusing. “It’s actually very difficult to drive in and out, because there’s not really enough space.”

The traffic lights not working is creating more confusion, she says. “When you drive up to them, you don’t know what you’re supposed to be doing.”

Why Are They Off?

When the traffic lights were installed last summer, Mac Oscar says she presumed she would stop getting calls from locals asking for the junction to be improved. But that hasn’t happened.

Dublin City Council has not yet responded to queries sent last Wednesday asking why there was a delay switching on the traffic lights.

In a response to a query from Mac Oscar at the April monthly council meeting, the council said it had failed to reach consensus with local businesses on the changes to parking layout that were needed to install “loops.”

Callaghan, the Social Democrats councillor, says the council changed its initial plans for one pedestrian crossing on Beneavin Road, that had been requested by Beneavin de la Salle College and local residents.

“As you delve into things, you see, it’s always a little bit more complex,” she says.

The council realised that cars leaving the Tesco car park – which is on the north side of Glasnevin Avenue – and driving across Glasnevin Avenue straight into Beneavin Road, would not know if there was a green light for pedestrians to cross Beneavin Road ahead of them as they travelled into it, she says.

There’s no corresponding traffic light that would turn red to warn the cars of pedestrians crossing there. So the council had to instead create a four-arm junction, she says.

That threw up a new problem though, she says. “In that they didn’t have the space in the car park,” she says.

The council needed to remove some parking spaces, two of them disabled spaces, to create space for electric traffic “loop” signal system, which can detect cars approaching the traffic lights.

But the Tesco car park is private, so the council needed permission from the supermarket, she says.

In an email to councillors in March, the council area office confirmed that it had gotten permission from Tesco to do this, says Mac Oscar, the Fianna Fáil councillor.

“Tesco has agreed for us to extinguish 2 parking spaces to facilitate the installation of traffic loops on their land. It’s now a question of getting our ITS team to proceed as planned,” wrote Perry Chitombo, a council engineer.

“But no firm timeline,” says Mac Oscar, “and €233,000, that’s a mad, mad use of money.”

Councillors have been raising safety issues around this junction for years, says Mac Oscar. “There’s just no management.”

But now, they aren’t sure when the junction will be working, since the council haven’t told them. “In the meantime, we’re just left with a junction where there’s lights there, and they’re not being switched on.”

Caroline Conroy, a Green Party councillor, says it can be hard to find out information about when traffic measures have been completed, unless councillors ask the council directly. And so local’s questions on the impact of the junction are left unanswered.

“When one area is dealt with, it impacts on another area. We won’t know until they actually activate them. But they are needed in that particular spot,” says Conroy. “It’s quite busy, quite tricky.”

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Claudia Dalby: Claudia Dalby is a city reporter for Dublin Inquirer. She's especially interested in stories about the southside, transport, and kids in the city. Get in touch at [email protected]

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