TRAFFIC tailbacks have blighted the opening of the new primary and nursery schools on the Castledawson Road in Magherafelt.
Talks took place this week between local councillors, DRD Roads Service and the North Eastern Education and Library Board in an effort to solve the problem.
Council chairman Paul McLean said he has been “inundated with complaints from parents, business owners and road users.”
“Motorists have seen their travel times from the Castledawson roundabout to the town centre increase dramatically since the school opened this month,” he claimed.
“It is now taking almost 50 minutes to travel from the roundabout to the centre of the town, leaving many employees arriving late for work.
“Parents leaving their children to school from the Moneymore side of the town had travel times of around 75 minutes.”
The DUP councillor said while he accepted that there will be “a bedding in” period, he argued that “something radical” needed to be done.
“This (traffic delays) puts even more pressure on town centre businesses in today’s economic climate,” he added.
Local SDLP councillor Jim Campbell said there was now a concentration of schools within a small area of the town accessing onto a main road.
He said there now needed to be a serious look at the road infrastructure given the number of schools and volume of traffic using Castledawson Road.
The new £5m primary and nursery schools are sited on the former RIR barracks andwhen the site was finally passed, there had been a suggestion that an access road would be provided from Station Road.
A DRD spokesperson confirmed that there had been a meeting relating to the Castledawson Road.
She said: “Roads Service agreed to look at the site during the morning peak hours to see if any improvements could be made to reduce the delays that had occurred last week during the icy conditions.”
A North Eastern Education and Library Board spokesperson said further meetings on the problem are scheduled for after the Christmas holidays.
“All concerned are keen to see this problem resolved as soon as possible,” she stressed.