Major Review Of Little Island Traffic Management Required Following Chemical Spill

By Seamus Whelehan


Standing orders were suspended for a time at Monday’s Southern committee meeting in County Hall to discuss last week’s chemical spill, that closed Little island off to traffic for over 4 hours.
The incident happened at the East Gate roundabout shortly after 5:15pm on Wednesday 13 December, which resulted in a truck shedding 200 litres of organic peroxide type F – liquid peracetic acid.
Fire crews from Cobh, Midleton and Cork City attended the scene, at the East Gate roundabout, along with a specialist chemical response contractor to assist in the clean-up.
Entry into the Island from Midleton and Glounthaune was blocked by emergency personnel as clean-up operations began, with other roads also blocked off and traffic diverted to the tunnel entrance, to access Little Island.
While the road was kept partially open at East Gate to facilitate traffic leaving the East Gate side of Little Island.
Cobh Municipality Chairman, Cllr Padraig O’Sullivan, who called for the suspension of statutory business, told the executive a major traffic management plan needs to be implemented ahead of any future development of the area.
The Fianna Fail Cllr said traffic chaos is a way of life for many Little Island residents, and last week’s incident just copper fastened that.
“Eli Lilly have announced another 500 jobs for Little Island in the next 12 months, which is great news. But with the ongoing issues we have with traffic, it’s crazy that developments like that could go ahead, without any further allowance for traffic and related issues.”
“My phone was hopping mad for two or three days after the incident. 90% of the calls I got on Thursday and Friday were related to that. Business owners are refusing to pay rates, until something is done in the overall context of little Island” commented Cllr O’Sullivan.
There is an estimated 1,000 people living close to almost 1,000 businesses employing tens of thousands in the area, come peak times the Islands’ traffic grinds to a halt.
Deputy County CEO, Declan Daily, admitted there was an issue getting on and off the island.
He said the authority were “committed” in resolving the transport issues in the area.
Mr Daily added, he expected traffic management reports on Little Island and Metropolitan Cork to be completed in the New Year.
He said the Dunkettle interchange upgrade, should provide an alternative access to replace the Little Island management slip road and provide an overpass.
Independent Cllr Marcia Dalton said more public transport services would be the biggest factor in encouraging people to use their car less.
A recent study discovered 87% of people travel by car to little island, with just 6% using the rail network.
Cllr Dalton said a park and ride service located off the N25, would resolve many of Little Islands traffic woes, providing it offered “door to door delivery.”
She said this, in turn would free up the roads for residents, who could access the area with a residential sticker.
In 2009, Cork County Council completed a traffic management study of the area. The study recommended the upgrading of seven junctions, six were approved by full council for funding.
In 2013, Transport Infrastructure Ireland (then NRA) funded the signalisation of the Ballytrasna junction.
The upgrade improved pedestrian crossing facilities at the heavily used junction.
In 2015, the TII ring-fenced funding for the upgrade of Little Island cross. The project was dependant on land acquisition for the necessary space to implement the junction upgrade.