LAOIS County Council have still not provided funding for a pedestrian crossing at Grattan Street in Portlaoise, despite continuous appeals from Cllr Willie Aird for a crossing at that location and one at Fr Browne Avenue.
At last week’s meeting of Portlaoise Town Council, a letter from PJ Dempsey of the roads department explained that funding had been sought, but there is no funding allocated for Grattan Street. Mr Dempsey said that this will be investigated under the next phase of funding.
Mr Dempsey also said that Fr Browne Avenue does not qualify for funding. He said there is an uncontrolled crossing currently in place at Fr Browne Avenue and the county council does not recommend changing it.
After listening to the detailed response from Mr Delaney, read out to the meeting by town clerk, Ms Elaine Moore, Cllr Aird sardonically remarked: “You’d put in a crossing for all the time it took to read that speech.”
Cllr Aird pointed out that the council had received a lot of money for the shopping centre on the Abbeyleix Road and they hadn’t seen fit to put down a crossing.
“It’s very embarrassing, a councillor living next to it and I can’t get a crossing,” he said. “Grattan Street is even more important, it’s the only road in Portlaoise that doesn’t have a pedestrian crossing. We’re neglecting the residents, there are a lot of seniors in that area and they have no place to cross
“Why did Grattan Street fall of the radar?” Cllr Aird continued. “It behoves us as public representatives to get a crossing. People are saying to me, ‘You’ve spent €750,000 on the Borris Road, can you not give us a bit of money?’”
The councillor also pointed out that there are only around 12 months left before the town council becomes defunct.
Cllr Jerry Lodge said he fully supported everything Cllr Aird had said about the dangers of the road.
“I stood on Grattan Street for half an hour at the weekend and I was flabbergasted at the speed people come down at,” said Cllr Lodge.
“Were you standing there, or looking out of Caseys’ window?” quipped Cllr Aird.
Cllr Kathleen O’Brien remarked that Grattan St is one of the oldest streets in Portlaoise, formerly known as Quality Road years ago. She said it is a wide street which warrants a pedestrian crossing.
Cllr O’Brien also said that Fr Browne Avenue is a very busy street which warrants a pedestrian crossing.
Town mayor, Cllr Catherine Fitzgerald said she totally disagreed with the answer from Laois County Council.
“The answer says that a crossing will cause a backlog of traffic, it gives no way to pedestrians, it’s totally for the motorists,” she said. “Our concern is the pedestrians.”
The mayor also pointed out that when the Parkside Shopping Centre was built, a lot of money went into the development and this included traffic calming measures.