The much publicised traffic flow problems faced by motorists and pedestrians alike in the centre of Dungannon have generated lively debate on a new social media page which has reached over 20,000 people in its first week.
Issues raised by visitors to the site - which has been set up by a Masters student as part of their thesis on town planning - include everything grom the height of kerbs next to disabled parking spaces to ongoing complaints about the traffic light system which links Market Square with Scotch Street and Church Street.
Dungannon’s Public Realm Scheme has long been the topic of discussion since the first phase of the project was completed, with shoppers and traders venting their dissatisfaction at the changes to the layout of Market Square, while some elected representatives believe the work has improved the town.
However, the reaction to this Facebook page on the issue has not been positive, with some commentators stating: “Town centre to be avoided at ALL times!” and “I’d rather pay for parking or go elsewhere, that system on the square is a mess, parked cars cause a congestion when pulling in, you can’t get out of the spaces again, the traffic lights have a system unknown to mankind.”
The TIMES contacted the student behind the research project who, despite wishing to remain anonymous and protect the impartiality of their investigations, said they had been “overwhelmed” by reaction to the page.
The university graduate explained: “At the moment my project is centred around the opinions of Dungannon’s Town Centre stakeholders including the public, traders, councillors and planners but this may change as the project progresses...My initial reason for using Facebook was to provide a platform for public opinion with my role being simply to suggest topics for discussion, include photographs and then move on to suggest different proposals to perhaps improve Dungannon’s traffic problems, again encouraging people to discuss these proposals.”
While parking and traffic lights appear to top the list of complaints among visitors to the Dungannon Town Centre Traffic and Parking Project page, the difficulties faced by pedestrians wishing to cross from one side of Market Square to the other have also been highlighted.
One user commented: “In addition to the parking problems...what is the meaning of the barrier the whole length of the Square which means people cannot cross from one side of the Square to the other without walking to the top of the square or playing Russian roulette at the traffic lights at the Irish Street/Church Street junction? Easily resolved by cutting out ‘gateways’ at regular intervals.”
While the page has received many complaints about the new traffic system in Dungannon, there have also been proactive suggestions about how to address the flow of cars and other vehicles, including scheduling bin lorries to collect waste at non-peak times and increasing the number of disabled parking spaces available.
When the first phase of the Public Realm Scheme was completed earlier this year, Social Development Minister, Mervyn Storey, said the work had “transformed the centre of Dungannon and has created an attractive town centre environment that will greatly benefit all those who live, work and shop in the town”.
The next stage of the work will see Scotch Street (including Scotch Street Centre), Georges Street, William Street, Ann Street, Thomas Street, Perry Street and Northland Row undergo a facelift, to include a new footway and parking bay surfaces, stone kerbing, as well as new street furniture and improved lighting.