Lights could be tweaked to ease school traffic

BACKING UP: Adjustments may be made to the timings of traffic lights and children are being encouraged to walk to school

BACKING UP: Adjustments may be made to the timings of traffic lights and children are being encouraged to walk to school

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FINAL adjustments to ensure traffic flows smoothly around the new Bemahague School can only take place once the major road works in Onchan are complete.

Highways director Richard Pearson has said the final resurfacing in Onchan is due for completion early next month and only then can they make a meaningful assessment of traffic flow.

The serious congestion which heralded the school’s opening in September was likely to be exceptional, he said, but other options included possible adjustments to the traffic lights or even a right-hand turn lane.

‘When the school opened it was understandable that parents took their children on the first day and if there is bad weather that causes more people to drive, so there were exacerbating factors,’ he said.

He said since then they had taken measures to remind drivers about safe stopping and dropping off places around the school.

‘There is still some congestion but not as bad as on the first day,’ he revealed. ‘We may yet adjust the traffic lights but not at the moment because the Onchan roadworks mean the traffic flow is not typical. Once everything is flowing normally we can have a think about modifying the timings.’

He said staff had carried out a survey assessing the volume and flow of cars through the area.

‘But it’s too early to take decisive action at the moment,‘ he said.

The new traffic lights at the Hillberry Road-Heywood Drive junction were a condition of the planning consent for the new school, which was granted on appeal in April 2005.

The lights were installed by the Department of Education and Children initially to improve safety for construction site traffic. They were then retained and adopted by the Department of Infrastructure to manage extra traffic created by the new school.

In a letter to Onchan MHK Peter Karran, Infrastructure Minister David Cretney MHK said traffic light adjustment was the first, and low cost, option to consider. If necessary he said they would consider widening the junction to include an extra lane but this would require cost approval from Treasury.

Mr Pearson pointed out putting in an extra lane could involve compulsory land purchase, which was best avoided if possible.

‘There are good pedestrian routes so the thing is to encourage our children to walk to school or use the bus which would be good for their health and ease congestion,’ he said.

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