Protest in Liberties due to traffic chaos caused by Fatima

Date:

Residents in the vicinity of the construction being undertaken on the site of the recently demolished Fatima Mansions today protested at the entrance of their estate over the inadequacy of a long time promised traffic management system which had been promised to them prior to construction work beginning. Two simultaneous blockades were mounted at either end of Lorreta Road, residents joined and left with a fluctuating prescence of anywhere between ten and fifteen maintaining the line on either side of the estate. Marylands is an estate located close to the canal, just off Marrowbone Lane beside Cork Street. Traffic on any given day on Marrowbone Lane is hectic, with cars using it as a route to cut through the Liberties to reach Cork St, leaving a very narrow artery dangerously clogged with passage for cyclists generally untenable at peak hours without using the paths.

Does This Estate Look Like A Race Course To You?

The road also carries a heavy load of council trucks coming to and from any of the depots and construction sites located along it. With road closures resulting from construction work under way at Fatima, these traffic problems were amplified with negative knock on effects for residents in Marylands. At a residents meeting last night, the decision was made to blockade the road from today, allowing local traffic through while diverting traffic seeking an non-existent short cut back on to Marrowbone Lane.

With a large number of childern, demands for a childern at play sign were highlighted in the past year when local Sinn Fein types constructed their own sign from old election posters and mounted it on a pole before being replaced by an official council one. Being a mixed estate it also is home to more elderly residents, one of whom is wheelchair bound and facing hassle due to increased traffic in the area. With many of the paths unsuitable for wheelchair usuage, she is forced to use the road to visit friends and local amenities, with congestion this is an impossible prospect. Today residents seemed determined to make this blockade a daily occurence until an adequate response was put in place to address their concerns.

Siobhan Salinger of the Marylands Community Residents Association explained how:

?People are out today is because of the Fatima re-development, they've closed off James' Walk so Maryland is being used as a racetrack basically as the traffic doesn't realise its only residents as there's no access out onto Cork St, so with the result they are going into Maryland and because its a circular estate they are just flying around like there's an entrance out, then realising there's not and backing up Loretto Road and the two arteries off here with the result the residents can't get out, if there was an accident or a fire an ambulance can't get into it and the children could just walk out in a car that comes flying from no where. There just two weeks ago another residents father died and the funeral car came to pick them up and was sitting at this junction for 15 minutes on the night of the removal of the father because cars wouldn't let them out.

?That'll show you that if there was an ambulance or something you are not getting the respect from passing traffic and people do live here. So we approached Fatima Redevelopment and they basically don't' want to know, and don't want to work with the local community. The same thing has happened on Rubins Street which is another artery off Fatima, they said they were closing the road for six weeks and six months later its still closed. So unless they are willing to work with us and ensure that the people of the area are going to be looked after. You know the work thats being done no one has a problem with it no ones objecting to it, we think its a brilliant idea and it will benefit the area but while this work is being done we need to have some kind of quality of transport, they just have to acknowledge that live still goes on and the likes of this closing off a road between James St and Rialto is a major road closure and its to facilitate the builders and the work men going in there. Then a couple of weeks ago we had a double decker bus driving around Maryland full of children, as you can see its not built for double deckers. Because of the traffic building up here the main entrance for the bottom which is the Weaving Mills on Cork St, they are coming through there.

?There is access through Maryland, but its not the main access and they were never meant to use it so with the result we are now getting trucks trying to prevent themselves sitting in the traffic also coming through there. So in the past couple of weeks, there's been a fair amount of traffic coming and going and flying around so we just had a residents meeting last night so we decided enough is enough, until somebody does something about it we are going to take action. Its peaceful enough we are asking people do they live here, if they live here there's no problem they can get access into James' Walk because Mallin Avenue is affected as well. We are not being unreasonable by any stretch of the imagination but we are not letting cars that think they have free access through to come in and use it and its basically for the children. If they're crossing the road they are frightened, stepping out in front of cars. Now because its blocked off its quite, but if you can imagine without the blockade, I mean its already backed up into Pimlico now because of this. Its not going to benefit them coming through here. When they come through its a full circle at the top of this road so they go around there, they can't get out till the canal where the LUAS is because that's blocked off so they are coming back up Loretto Road, but then the traffic is branching right the way back around so we're blocked in, no emergency service can get into us.

?So that's what were doing today, so hopefully the builder and Dublin City Council are going to take notice of us. The committee have being in negotiations, but I mean its not just the committee and the people on it, its the residents of Maryland that have decided as you can see people are only realising we are doing something so we have this entrance blocked and the one at the top. The decision was made to direct traffic onto Forbes Lane and to Marrowbone Lane and even this, this road isn't built for it, so they do U-turns and end up back where they were anywhere. So we're the ones having to live with it anyway. We don't want to cause aggravation but there wasn't anything put in place they knew this was going to happen for a long time, but they put nothing in place. From a residents point of view it looks like bad planning."

Jerry Colins, one of the supervisors of the redevelopment project at Fatima was out in person diverting traffic as a result of the residents' actions, when asked why residents were blockading traffic coming into their estate he admitted himself that

"Traffic has become more congested because James' Walk is closed off so people in Maryland residential area started diverting traffic going through there. What we're doing here is a short term measure, a barrier advising motorists to go further down thereby avoiding Maryland by using Forbes Lane reducing traffic going to Maryland helping the situation. We have to look at it again tomorrow as there's also problems down on Marrowbone Lane again. At the moment I'm dealing with the developer here, and basically if I let go off this sign it'll blow over so I'll try get something more sturdy.?

Colin Waldren, chair of the Maryland Community Residents Association who was involved in the protest at the end of the Marylands closer to the canal expanded on the concerns being expressed by the blockades.

?There's a 150 euro million development going on up there that Fatima Regeneration Board is involved in and there's been very little consultation with the residents of Maryland since St James walk has been closed and there's excess coming into an area that was built over eighty years ago that's more or less only wide enough for horse and carts. So we have our own problems with our own traffic never mind the traffic that's coming up here and its clearly very poorly signposted like its taken the residents coming out and standing on the road to stop them coming through to make this happen and all of a sudden we have no traffic coming through, as the sign down there is a result of us doing this. The developer as fair as I'm concerned couldn't care less about what goes on on the outside of that site up there. He's more interested in getting the work done, as you can hear he's working away up there and they couldn't care less what's going on outside.

?I don't know how to describe this to you, there's been no communication between the developers and ourselves until this week. Yesterday I had a meeting with him and he said he was going to bring around diversion signs and whatever else, but basically what he did this morning was put up signs sending cars into Maryland instead of stopping them back on Forbes as is being done now. Now the developer has promised to have a man standing there at half three tomorrow sending traffic to Forbes Lane and out on to Marrowbone lane. So hopefully he'll stick to his plan and have somebody there from half three until six o'clock tomorrow or otherwise we'll be back out here tomorrow. We had a tour bus up here trying to get through Maryland, which he had to do a three point turn in an area that you can just about do one with a van. That goes to show the sort of signs they put up, absolutely ridiculous.?

Damien Farrell, a member of the Construction and Demolition Working Group and a resident elaborated on problems with dialogue between the community and the developer:

"The road closure is a result of an application put in by Elliot which is the private part of the Public Private Partnership in the Fatima Regeneration Board. Now its for work that needs to be done, and on that basis we went along with it, but as with the Maryland residents we did flag requirements that needed to be put in place in the area of traffic management. The road closed on the 8th, basically two weeks ago tomorrow and there was no traffic management system put in place. One of the developers representatives, Fergal Duffy maintained he had meetings with the local guard responsible for the traffic department but it didn't seem to have materialised and the only guards to have materialised were two guards that responded to an emergency on the site. Basically the road was closed in the afternoon and we knew what was going to happen. The implications were widespread, there's a lot of kids here in the avenue behind us which is a closed in avenue, its not a through road so the kids play in there from a very young age and there not used to traffic. Any traffic that would be in there would be use to them and know they are there. The consequence of closing the road with no management system put in place is lorries, securicor vans, a queue of traffic literally from the gates as far as you can see waiting to see what the hold up was and then turning around in the middle of the street, narrowly missing cyclists both children and adults. Motorcyclists were mounting the footpath and using it while women were walking down it with buggies and children, it was a complete disaster.

"Now in fairness to the CEO of the Fatima Regeneration Board, John White, when I contacted him by phone he came around immediately to put an interim arrangement in place but unfortunately affected traffic going into Maryland, leading to one occasion where there was two double decker buses caught in Maryland and its a very small road. Since then we've had several meetings of the Demolition and Construction Working Group which is empowered to make decisions by the Fatima Regeneration Project, but we still have no adequate traffic management system in operation. In the area of signage, we asked for signage well in advance of the roads that lead to the roads that are closed hoping it would affect cars coming up altogether and causing congestion in the vicinity and the residential area in particular. The signs went up yesterday, and most of them have blown down already."

While sharing the same concerns over traffic congestion as a result of construction on the site and a lack of promised traffic management, Damien went on to expand on a set of other issues which arise from the regeneration of Fatima and may negatively affect the community despite its own definite support for the project.

"There are other issues of common interest also, issues of dust, noise, working hours, planning conditions that have been breached and bent in relation to pedestrian and cycle routes through the site. The problem we have is marrying it to the acceptance that the project is a good thing, its a good thing for the people that live in there, for the people that live around it and a good thing for the area in general. So its difficult to object to things that impact on you negatively and still come across from a positive aspect. The most important problem we're facing is that these houses are nearly a hundred years old, and there's going to be excavations and pile driving to twenty five and thirty feet in there it might hit the rock that these houses are founded on. There's already been possible damage caused to the interns of some of the houses by the demolition process. We were guaranteed a dilapidation survey on all the houses and it hasn't been done yet. There's also one road that we feel is every bit as close to the project and the developer is refusing point blank to survey that area, the survey costs anywhere in the region of ?250-?350 per house, we feel its a small house for the developer to pay but a big price for a household to pay especially on the basis that it's a project outside of their control and its not as if they asked for it to happen. On the basis of the cost, the good will and piece of mind we'd all gain is worth it.

"Another main concern is that at the most recent meeting, the Fatima Group United representative, that the group and the residents are seeking a formal application that the working hours be extended beyond seven o'clock. We feel that if they do that our residents, and most likely the residents of Maryland will be objecting to it as opposed to integrating and uniting the communities it will create problems among them. Fatima Groups United represent all the residents of Fatima, and if they formulate a proposal to extend the working hours beyond six o'clock we wouldn't want it. As it is it impacts on us enough, and that gate will be a site entrance with construction traffic coming out. Coming into the summer months with the children we're going to have to find activities for them during the day to put them out of harms way. We asked for a health and safety audit to be done on this area, and it hasn't been done yet. We know this project is good for everyone but we can't risk dividing the community over it. However we move forward we can't create divisions.?

This article was written for indymedia.ie and first published at http://www.indymedia.ie/article/76769

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