THE PRINCIPAL of a West Limerick national school has called for action to tackle traffic problems outside the school “before we have a serious accident”.
Staff, parents and members of the Castlemahon community have lobbied Limerick County Council to build a set-down area outside Mahoonagh NS, in a bid to address the “chaotic” traffic situation at the end of the school day.
The council has been asked to consider building a lay-by outside the proposed new parish hall, which is to be built next door to the school. It is estimated that the lay-by would cost at least €50,000.
Members of the parish hall committee have secured letters for support from Mahoonagh NS principal Carl Nash, as well as the head of the parents committee.
In his letter, Mr Nash has described the traffic situation outside the school as “a major risk to the health and safety of all involved”, due to the school’s location on “a very dangerous T junction”. Mr Nash urged that a set-down area be built “before we have a serious accident outside the school”.
At November’s county council local area meeting in Newcastle West, Michael McMahon, Catriona Quaid and David Cremin of the parish hall committee sought support from councillors for their proposals.
Mr McMahon told the meeting that as part of the hall’s planning application, which was recently approved, the committee had to come up with a proposal to tackle “chaotic” traffic outside the school.
The committee drew up proposals for a separate set-down area, similar to that which was recently built outside the Courtenay Boys NS in Newcastle West. Mr McMahon said that the committee would like the council to take the lead with the development of the lay-by, and referred to a plan drawn up by the council for traffic improvements in Castlemahon in 2007, which pre-dates the hall project.
Mr McMahon said that a single lane set-down area would “alleviate our huge problem” and would cost a “ball park” €50,000.
Ms Quaid, who is also chairperson of the school’s parents association, said that the “absolutely horrendous” traffic situation outside the school has gotten worse in recent years, as class sizes “have practically doubled”.
Senior council engineer, Jimmy Condon, said that the council would be willing to do its own costing for the work, but warned that the €50,000 figure quoted would likely be “a minimum”.
Cllr Michael Collins said that traffic remains a “huge issue” for the school, and a set-down area would be “a huge service to the community”. Cllr Jerome Scanlan said that the main problem is the junction by the bridge, which he described as “extremely dangerous”.
Cllr Damien Riedy said “we should definitely be rowing in behind them... some resources should be made available”.
Cllr Liam Galvin said that the works could have been included in the recent grant for an extension to the school, but it was now “too late”.
He requested that money for the project be released from the county council’s development fund.