DEPUTY Patrick O’Donovan has hit out at the work taking place at the Ballysimon interchange and “short sighted” planning by the NRA.
“It’s an obstacle course of traffic, lights, cones and lanes. I know there is a job going on, and it’s great that it is going on, but it is very dangerous,” said Mr O’Donovan, who added that he has received dozens of phone calls from constituents from all over East Limerick on Ballysimon.
He asks why weren’t these works completed in 2008: “The reality is with the works being carried out there at the moment, based on traffic projections for that part of East Limerick in the future, will that junction be able to accommodate it?
“Also, if you’re going in to Limerick from Newcastle West or Adare and you’re trying to get in to Childers Road or UL you’ve no choice but to turn off at the Ballysimon interchange. It beggars the question, why was that interchange built to reduced to capacity?
“This junction is also carrying a huge amount of traffic unnecessarily from the R512 which conveys all the traffic in to Limerick from Bruff, Ballyneety, Kilmallock, Mitchelstown and Kilfinane.
“You can go the whole way in to Childers Road or you can turn off right there at Ballyneety and come out at Morrison’s where they are building the new roundabout. We have a perfect motorway encircling the city and they can’t get on to it,” said Mr O’Donovan, who adds that the bulk of the traffic turning off the M7 to go in to Limerick could be accommodated if there was an access point by the Maldron hotel, which was shut off.
“I have asked the council and the NRA as the Kilmallock road is a strategic regional road, and given the fact that there is a commitment through regeneration, to put in an extra interchange on the M7 to accommodate the southside of the city for the towns of Ballyneety, Bruff, Kilmallock and their hinterland. It would give them access to the motorway at the M7 rather than going the whole way into Limerick to go back out again,” said Mr O’Donovan.
In response to his parliamentary question the NRA said the N7/N24 junction at Ballysimon was constructed as part of the N7 Limerick Southern Ring Road improvement scheme in 2004.
The NRA provided €800,000 for traffic management measures, installation of traffic signals in 2008 to cater for “increased development and traffic volumes in the region”.
The current works include the “widening of the northbound M7 off-ramp to facilitate the provision of a free flow slip lane and the construction of a roundabout at the junction of the N24 and the old Ballysimon road.” The construction is valued at €1.9m, say the NRA
“The concern I have is - is it going to work and in advance of spending that kind of money shouldn’t they have looked at the whole road network,” said Mr O’Donovan.
An NRA spokesperson said: “Appropriate means have to be taken to improve traffic management in that area and any criticisms are ill placed when we are working with local engineers to improve the traffic situation,” they said.