Paramedic and UNITE shop steward Keith Bradfield says the layout has also resulted in significant delays when responding to emergency calls.
He has also expressed concerns over an increased number of pedestrians using the median to cross The Quay rather than pedestrian crossings.
He confirmed Cllr Kelly’s claims that ambulances have damaged cars while trying to navigate The Quay’s new layout.
Mr Bradfield says there have been a number of incidents, including wing mirrors being struck by ambulances struggling to get past other vehicles.
“We also notice cars having to mount pavements in an effort to move out of our way and, while this is appreciated ,there is undoubtedly damage caused to these vehicles and that in itself adds to the stress of us getting to a call,” he said.
“The city council engineer came out a while back with dimensions showing that two vehicles could pass on all stretches of The Quay but I beg to differ. If this was the case no one would have to mount kerbs or our vehicles wouldn’t come into contact with other vehicles.”
Mr Bradfield says many people have asked why emergency services do not use Waterford’s new bridge instead.
“Many people have asked why we don’t use the new bridge and that, indeed, is a valid question,” he said.
“But, for example, our base at UHW to Dawn Meats in Grannagh via the new bridge is 15.9km and via the Quays is 9.2km. Our base at UHW to Waterford Golf Club via the new bridge is 17.6km and via Quays 6.7kms. Besides the difference in the actual distances involved, what people need to understand is that using the Outer Ring Road involves approximately 13 roundabouts at which we have to slow our vehicles whereas on The Quay, prior to the upgrade, we had a clear run with no obstacles. Every second/minute counts in some of the calls that we attend and we always take the quickest route. This has of course been slowed because of the new Quay upgrade. The Quay, at any given time, is at gridlock from Parnell Street to the bridge. Because of this, William Street is then backed up to De La Salle College, a situation that we have only needed to deal with in the last couple of years.
He said the new layout has also changed people’s attitudes to pedestrian crossings on The Quay.
“Before the new design of The Quay there were certain pedestrian crossings that people used, but now we find that people are using the new median as a crossing point from the GPO all the way up to the bus terminal,” he explained.
“And with the inclusion of the trees on the median our visual scope of people crossing is severely hindered. Thank God, up to this point, no one has been injured due to this but you can see it happening.”
Mr Bradfield said the majority of road users assist emergency services.
“The majority of road users, when they hear or see us coming, do their best to move aside. But it only takes one person to panic or do the completely opposite thing to what they should do and that brings us to a complete stop,” he said.