Householders meeting at Ward’s Cross outside Abbeyfeale to highlight the daily risks they encounter simply going and coming from to their homes.
THERE are just seven junctions between Newcastle West and the Kerry border that have stacking lanes which allow cars to cross safely.
Yet there are 17 junctions, including Ward’s Cross, just outside Abbeyfeale, which are without these stacking lanes, Cllr Liam Galvin declared at a special meeting of Limerick City and County Council on Monday.
The Abbeyfeale based councillor, along with other councillors, had called for a special meeting to discuss Ward’s Cross and other junctions along the N21 because of the daily risks and dangers local people were forced to endure.
Yet, he said, the roads authority, Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) had told Deputy Tom Neville in October they had no history of accidents at Ward’s Cross.
“There are people here,” Cllr Galvin said, pointing to the public gallery,” who nearly lost their lives there as late as the end of September because of a rear-end accident.”
What he wanted, he said, was a programme of works to install stacking lanes at every junction, beginning with Ward’s Cross. “We should not wait for more fatalities, more casualties,” he said. If two or three were done each year, it would get done, he argued.
But he demanded: “Why are the TII not here? Is it so difficult to get a bit of paint on the road? ”
Cllr Francis Foley, FF, also expressed disappointment at the absence of a TII representative and supported the call for action. “Their response is appalling and shameful,” said Cllr Adam Teskey FG who also raised concerns about junctions between Newcastle West and Adare.
“They should be made to come here,” Cllr Seamus Browne said of the TII. However, he went on to inform councillors that arrows lining the N21 at Ward’s Cross had been removed in the last number of months and a serious accident had occurred since.
“There have been quite a number of accidents there down the years,” Cllr John Sheahan FG said. “Are we to wait for the stats to rise? To wait until we have another seven or nine souls in graveyards around West Limerick? Are we going to wait until we have a second Barnagh on our hands?” .
Cllr Sheahan wanted to know what information on accidents the TII had and whether they had a point system to measure degrees of safety. The TII will say that money is the issue, he warned. “I would lay it squarely on our Oireachtas members to make sure the money is put through TII for these projects,” he said.
But councillors also expressed disappointment there was no report before them, given that the issue was first raised about six weeks ago.
“I am mesmerised there is no reply. I really expected something positive to be offered today from the council and TII,” Cllr Michael Collins FF said. “Has a safety audit been carried out? Does anybody have costs done? What representations have they made to the TII?
It was, his party colleague, Cllr Vivienne Crowley, pointed out, a very simple job but red tape at council level and at TII level was getting in the way. And she addressed Kieran Lehane, director of services for transport, demanding: “What are you going to do so that (a) the TII listens and (b) acts quickly?”
Mr Lehane said that the TII doesn’t attend council meetings. “They rely on us to be conduit from members,” he said. But he stressed that they do respond to local requests and they do monitor the safety of the road network.
“All the issues have been discussed with the TII,” executive engineer Ger O’Connor said. The TII representative whom they had met some weeks ago said she would check the accident history at Ward’s Cross Mr O’Connor said, and also agreed the lining at the cross was not correct. But there was no undertaking given regarding stacking lanes at junctions.
Councillors agreed to a proposal from Mr Lehane that he would discuss the list of 17 junctions and other junctions along the N21 with councillors in the Newcastle West and Adare Rathkeale municipal districts. He undertook to meet them in December before forward a report to the TII.