A MAMMOTH garda operation will swing into action for the duration of the national ploughing championships.
With 100,000 people expected to attend each day of the event between 17-19 September, gardaí have been working on a traffic management plan since Ballintrane, Fenagh was first announced last year.
The full traffic plan will be launched this Wednesday, while a map of routes is available to view on www.npa.ie.
Seven separate routes have been developed to cater for traffic from all over the country, with in excess of 100 gardaí involved in the road policing operation.
‘‘There is going to be certain discommode to drivers, but what we want to do is ensure that no route crosses over another route,” said Insp Anthony Farrell of the divisional roads policing unit.
The only road closure in place will be the N80 between Circle K, Tinryland and Ballykealy House from Monday at noon to Friday at noon. This is to facilitate bus traffic, emergency traffic and local use. Residents will be given passes.
All routes will be two-way, apart from a section of road on the green route, which will cater for traffic from the west.
This one-way system will be in place between Rathbaun Lane at Grange onto Rathoe and the N80. It will be in operation into the event grounds in the morning and will switch in the afternoon.
Gardaí have been in discussions with local communities about traffic management to ensure they know what to expect and to minimise disruption.
Insp Audrey Dormer and Sgt in charge at Tullow Garda Station Joe Hanley have been to the fore in these preparations.
Contact has been made with those who have pressing personal needs, including those with special needs, and a pregnant woman who is due to give birth around the time of the championships.
Insp Farrell said: ‘‘Where there is high priority from people who have reached out to us, as we have to them, we will have a special arrangement for them.’’
Some businesses that require critical deliveries will have to take them during the night.
If anyone is concerned about traffic, they are asked to contact gardaí prior to the opening of the championships at the helpline number 086 8281207 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
‘‘Where there are issues along the route, we will do our best to accommodate where best we can,” said Insp Farrell.
Many towns and villages along the traffic routes present their own challenges, including Tullow and Leighlinbridge.
In Tullow, a positive meeting organised by Develop Tullow Association was held last week to address local issues.
There had been fears, particularly among local businesses, that there would be no parking throughout Tullow during the championships, but some parallel parking will be available on the Square.
Leighlinbridge poses a different challenge with narrow streetscape.
There will be cones in Leighlinbridge with on-street parking restricted on the days of the event, while gardaí will be on duty in the village.
Details of diversions will be announced this week and Sgt Hanley advised local motorists to give themselves extra time on their journeys.
‘‘Allow yourself an extra ten or 15 minutes, you will get there. All junctions will be manned by gardaí. The only thing that is going to slow things down is volume of traffic. When you have 100,000 going into one field, there will be delays,” he said. ‘‘We would hope that all the work we put into the traffic plan will result in people getting to places without being too badly discommoded.’’