A fly-over is the only safe long-term solution to ongoing traffic problems at the “Inkbottle” and the Tower Junction on the Piltown Bypass, a deputation told a meeting of the Piltown Electoral Area Committee of Kilkenny County Council in Newrath.
The proposed closure of the right turn from the two-plus-one N 24 road onto the L1038 at the Owning Road near the “Inkbottle Junction” is to be reviewed by the Council’s senior road engineers.
Local people have called on the Council not to proceed with the closure of the central barrier at the Inkbottle Junction and have urged the reopening of the right hand turn to Carrick-on-Suir with the reduction of the N 24 to a single lane.
Deputation spokesman Brian O’Shea said a public meeting at the Marian Hall, Owning, was called at 12 hours notice and was attended by 79 people including local councillors, residents, national school principals, local business people, truck operators, farmers, shopkeepers, publicans, engineers, accountants and lawyers.
Compelling and emotive submissions were made at the meeting which stressed that the L1038 was essential to residents and businesses at Belline, the Sweep, Brenor, Kilmanahan, Glenbower, Mullenbeg, Hugginstown, Newmarket and Knocktopher. For trucks that could not travel under the low bridge at Carrick-on-Suir it formed part of their route from Dungarvan to Kilkenny.
Alterations and amendments were constantly being made to the N 24 at Garrynarea, The Inkbottle, The Tower and Fiddown, with no real public consultation and in particular without local knowledge or consideration of the effects on local residents, business and schools, he said.
Mr O’Shea said in the short-term the gap in the central barrier of the Inkbottle Junction should remain. One of the purposes of the Piltown Bypass was to remove traffic from Piltown Village and closing the barrier would reverse that benefit. Since the central barrier was erected there had been no reported collisions at the Inkbottle Junction. Heavy Goods vehicles would utilise an alternative route past the national school in Piltown Village and this was confirmed by two operators including a representative of Doyle’s Concrete of Hugginstown.
Traffic forbidden to turn right from the N24 onto the L1038 would join traffic already turning right at Garrynarea and the result would be an almost inevitable overflow from the slip lane at Garrynarea onto the N 24, causing a complete stoppage of traffic on the N 24.
Mr O’Shea said the right turn towards Carrick-on-Suir should be reopened as its closure would be an unjustifiable alienation of local people who have always had the option of turning right towards Carrick-on-Suir. More than 35% of traffic was still turned right in defiance of the new signage and people were crossing the dual carriageway to make the right hand turn.
But much of the traffic wishing to turn right towards Carrick-on-Suir in fact turned left and travelled to the Tower Junction where it emerged onto the N24. This increased the concentration of traffic emerging from the Tower Junction and the confusion caused by this had led to many traffic collisions there.
There must be a long term plan for the Inkbottle Junction and the junctions in the vicinity along the N24 and the construction of a flyover was the only real and safe long term solution. A flyover could well incorporate both junctions and the construction of it might be contemporaneous to the construction of the Mooncoin Bypass.
The public meeting was conscious that it should not be perceived merely as a forum for complaint and criticism and that its observations should be taken with the utmost seriousness by decision makers in the County Council. It was suggested in the short term that the N 24 at the Inkbottle Junction for the duration of the junction be reduced to a single lane by means of amending the road markings. This would obviate the need to have traffic crossing the dual carriageway and would be in accordance with the NRA Handbook for the Construction of Roads and Bridges.
A second solution would be the provision of a slip road for traffic travelling from Carrick-on-Suir towards Waterford and turning left off the N 24 onto the L1308 at the Inkbottle, he added.
Cllr Pat Dunphy (FG) said drivers were crossing the dual carriageway to turn right towards Carrick-on-Suir. Others were turning left and travelling down to the Tower Junction in order to turn right. Those manoeuvres were dangerous and there had been at least six accidents at the Tower Junction. An over-pass was the answer to the problem but that would cost money.
The Piltown Electoral Committee Chairman, Cllr Dick Dowling (FG), said a lot of money was spent on the bypass project and a lot or work remained to be done. The feelings of local people had to be taken into consideration and a roundabout might be the solution to the problem. This road had given all of them more headaches than anything else and hopefully in the end everybody would be accommodated.
Council Chairman Tomas Breathnach (Lab) said hey did not want a steel barrier in the centre of the road.
Senior Roads Engineer Frank O’Dwyer said the Council was in a consultation process and submissions were being made and the presentation by the deputation would be considered as a submission.