THERE is currently no funding in place to provide a proper road infrastructure or traffic calming measures at the proposed site for the new primary schools in Portlaoise.
At the recent meeting of Portlaoise Town Council, councillors expressed their fears that the area could give rise to another Borris Road debacle, following responses from the roads department and the NRA that no funding is available to improve measures before the schools open.
Separate motions were proposed by Cllr Caroline Dwane, Cllr Willie Aird and Cllr Catherine Fitzgerald, to call on Laois County Council and the NRA to address the issues at the proposed site for six relocated schools at the Stradbally Road and New Link Road.
“There’s a serious need for both junctions to be upgraded,” said Cllr Dwane. “When the new road goes there that will be the orbital route.”
PJ Dempsey, senior executive engineer with the roads department, sent a response to the councillors’ requests. In it, he said: “Laois County Council agree that an upgrade of this junction is desirable, particularly in light of the proposals for school development in the area... However, at this time, no source of funding is available.”
He continued: “The NRA are aware that some of the junctions will be operating over capacity following the construction of the schools and they are aware that mitigation measures will be required... However the NRA has indicated that they will not be in a position to fund any of the required mitigation measures.”
Mr Dempsey concluded by saying that while Laois County Council will explore all funding options, “it is not possible to give a commitment that the infrastructure will be available, prior to the construction of the schools”.
Cllr Willie Aird rejected the response concerning funding as offered by Mr Dempsey, saying: “I don’t want PJ Dempsey.”
“The NRA have made it crystal clear that by 2014, the roundabouts will be over capacity,” Cllr Aird said. “Now, we could stick our heads in the sand, as we did with the Borris Road. The inconvenience on the Borris Road was because there was no consultation whatsoever.
“We can’t hide on this,” he continued. “The NRA have said these roads and roundabouts are over capacity. We should convene a meeting immediately, I want an NRA representative to come down here. We don’t want this to be like the Borris Road.”
“Local councillors took the flack on the Borris Road,” agreed town mayor, Cllr Catherine Fitzgerald, who said she fully supported taking action now.
“The Block Road is not capable,” she said.