Low temperatures affected new Letterkenny traffic lights
The low temperatures experienced during the severe weather last month affected the timing of new traffic lights in Letterkenny causing chaos at one of the town's busiest junctions.
Councillors have hit out at new so-called smart traffic lights which have been installed at the junction of High Road and Main Street.
Councillor Jimmy Kavanagh spent 14 minutes on the High Road in Letterkenny waiting to get onto Main Street due to the backlog of traffic and the timing of new traffic lights.
Speaking at Monday's Town Council meeting, Cllr. Kavanagh, said the new vehicle sensored lights at Crossview House were ‘too smart' while Sinn Fin councillor Gerry McMonagle said the timing mechanisms were ‘scandalous'.
Town Mayor, Tadhg Culbert said the Upper Main Street was akin to ‘Brands Hatch' racetrack as cars sped off from the lights to get past before they changed again.
Town Engineer, Mr John McCarron, confirmed the severe drop in temperatures during the big freeze in the run up to and over Christmas-New Year had affected the timing mechanisms.
"We got the main contractor back in and the sensor system is working better now but the timing is being looked at as well," Mr McCarron said.
The issue was raised by Labour Councillor Jimmy Harte who has called for a full review on the location and operation of all traffic lights around Letterkenny.
"In relation to the new traffic lights at Crossview House, I've yet to be convinced. Sometimes the lights change every two seconds," he said.
"This is happening at Justice Walsh Road and was late in the evening when I observed it," Cllr Harte said.
"In relation to other traffic lights around the town I wonder if we didn't have any at all, like places in Norway, would the traffic flow be better? I know in one city in Norway they've had no accidents at all since they got rid of traffic lights.
"I think the time has come for the council to examine the locations and operation of all traffic lights around the town," he added.
Independent Councillor Tom Crossan said he had reservations about the ‘smart lights' system at the junction.
"They're supposed to change automatically to facilitate better flow of traffic in different lanes but this doesn't appear to be happening. The lights as one travels up Port Road and Justice Walsh Road are very quick to change," he said.
Fianna Fil Councillor Dessie Larkin said there had been ‘teething' problems with the new lights.
"However, let's be clear - the lights were installed to deal with traffic outside normal working hours so there are no delays when the build-up of traffic is not as great. There is no doubt Justice Walsh Road is a problem and if the lights are still operating the same way at 12 midnight and 3am this needs to be examined," he said.
"We also need to look at the traffic lights on Pearse Road as part of the recommendations of the Luts transport study," he added.
Cllr. Gerry McMonagle said the lights at High Road were ‘scandalous'.
"There is a problem with the lights and that has to be sorted but motorists also have to face the fact they're constantly blocking up yellow boxes which is illegal. The gardai need to take a more proactive approach to police traffic that isn't moving in the town - particularly drivers who block up traffic in yellow boxes at junctions," he said.