South Kilkenny Councillors implore TII to implement ‘necessary’ measures
A year in which more lives were lost on the South East’s national primary roads must lead to urgent and necessary safety enhancements on both the N24 and N25 according to several South Kilkenny Councillors.
Speaking at their final Piltown Municipal District meeting of 2017, Councillors also referenced other non-fatal collisions and countless more ‘close shaves’ on both routes which could just as easily have yielded tragic outcomes.
“These two roads have certainly had a certain level of improvement in the last few years, but they remain very busy routes with fast moving traffic, too fast at times,” said Cllr Pat Dunphy (FG).
“And we still have several right hand turns coming onto and off both roads and there can be no avoiding the potential for ‘serious stuff’ happening as long as that situation remains. I know they probably can’t be avoided in some places but these right turns are far from ideal.”
Referring to the Rathkieran Junction in Mooncoin as “deadly,” Cllr Dunphy also commented on the consistently problematic Tower Road Junction at Piltown, where further remedial works were completed prior to Christmas.
“We all know what’s been done over the past few weeks, and further back now at this stage, are remedial measures at the junction until such time as a fly-over is built, yet a lot of the traffic, particularly coming from the Carrick-on-Suir direction, is approaching that junction at high speed. And I’d have to wonder about all of the obstacles that are in place as you approach the junction, from the point of view of anyone trying to come down off the Tower Road, particularly those cars that turn right towards Carrick. The wire in the middle of the road remains a major problem in my view and it’s like an obstacle course along that section of road now, and that’s been the case for far too many years at this stage.”
He added: “And what did we have there, albeit for a short time after the last set of works were finished? Another obstacle, a sign that was black on the side you’d see coming down off the Tower Road where this new island is after being laid, which meant drivers had another obstacle to look over in addition to the wire and the safety bollards and while it was there, it was, in my view, impeding vision for drivers even further.”
So what ought to be done? “This junction needs to be prioritised by TII (Transport Infrastructure Ireland) but they’ve got to do something further in advance of this long overdue fly-over being built as something has to be done to further reduce the speed of cars along that section of the road,” Cllr Dunphy stated.
“And I really feel a temporary speed limit along this section of the N24 is the best way that safety levels can be improved in the short term.”
Cllr Tomás Breathnach (Lab) agreed with Cllr Dunphy in relation to the Tower Road Junction which he feels can be “at times, confusing – your vision can be somewhat compromised there”.
Cllr Eamon Aylward (FF), who uses the N24 daily, believes the remedial works have not led to a significant or noticeable reduction in “the speed of traffic coming from Carrick: that’s a symptom of motorists not being able to overtake between Clonmel and Carrick, and you can even go back to Cahir when it comes to traffic being built up along the road. There are not enough safe places where you can overtake on the road and I feel the two lanes on approach to the Tower Road Junction needs to be reduced back to one (lane) closer to the Ink Bottle.”
He added: “There was a lay-by installed during the recent works, between the Ink Bottle and the Tower Road, which was put there with the intention of it being used by either a squad car or a speed van. But in the couple of months that it’s been there, and I’m on the road most days, I’ve not seen a squad car or a speed van using it at all. And it’d be welcome to see it being put to use.”
In reply, Area Engineer Ian Gardner said the ‘black-backed’ sign Cllr Dunphy had referred to at the Tower Road was a required identifying marker on the new island but a new double-sided reflected sign would be installed there in due course.
He told Cllr Aylward that the one lane channel feeding into the Tower Road Junction had been increased by 150 metres (from the Ink Bottle) during the recent remedial works and stated that the two-kilometre overtaking section on the route ought to placate frustrated drivers on the N24.
The addition of electronic signage in advance of the Tower Road Junction was triggered if motorists were driving in advance of 70 kilometres per hour, and conceded it “would be useful if the Gardaí used the lay-bys that had been put in place”. Cllr Melissa O’Neill (Ind) said she would bring up the lay-by’s usage – or lack thereof – at the next Joint Policing Committee (JPC) meeting, of which she is a member.
Echoing the sentiments of all six Councillors, in addition to the thousands of motorists who use the N24 daily, Ian Gardner stated: “The overbridge is the solution and we have to keep working on that”.
Regarding the N25, Cllr Ger Frisby (FF) referred to the “dangerous condition” of Hartley’s Cross at Slieverue and told the December meeting that he was aware of three recent accidents in which “the cars involved have spun on the road”.
Speaking in the wake of the deaths of the Alexander family on the N25 (New Ross to Ballinaboola Road), and just weeks after the deaths of the Dempsey siblings at Barntown, Cllr Frisby said he felt as if “we were waiting for a fatality to happen” in the Slieverue area before action would be taken.
“People are taking their lives in their hands when they’re turning right at Hartley’s Cross, and that shouldn’t be the case. I feel a realignment of the road is needed and that this issue needs to be put back on the agenda. After all, we’re talking about people’s lives here, something which simply shouldn’t be happening in this day and age. It just can’t be allowed to continue and we must press the TII on this.”
Ian Gardner told Cllr Frisby that Hartley’s Cross has been recently resurfaced and re-textured, adding: “I feel the issue there is largely to do with speeding – drivers are approaching the bend too quickly.” But he told Cllr Frisby that a traffic calming scheme for the junction would probably improve matters more significantly than a further resurfacing scheme.
Adding that right turning lanes had been introduced at the junctions at both Croke’s Shop and the Thatch Bar in Grannagh, Mr Gardner re-iterated that TII had “the decision making powers” when it came to speed limits and safety enhancements on national primary roads.