Residents of Portarlington road where driver killed 'living in fear'

Portarlington Kilmullen road residents want the council to take action and make their road safer

Residents of Portarlington road where driver killed 'living in fear'
By Lynda Kiernan lynda.kiernan@leinsterexpress.ie @laoisnews

Residents of the Kilmullen road in Portarlington, where a young driver was killed when his car hit a wall last month, have made an emotional plea to the council to make their road safe.

Last Thursday night over 50 concerned residents along the Kilmullen road gathered in one of their kitchens, to tell local politicians about the state of fear they are living in.

Resident Alan Douglan said the road is “lethal”.

"A lad landed upside down in his car in our drive in May. When a car comes upside down in your drive - it's that ad on the telly - this road is lethal," he said.

Last August 22 year old Daniel Delaney from Monasterevin was fatally injured when his car hit a wall on the road.

It is one of many accidents on the road, many of which residents say do not even get reported.

One resident Madeline Dempsey, whose house was the scene of the most recent fatal accident, said she is simply waiting for the next one.

"A life has already been lost. I now keep a high vis jacket and a torch at all times on the kitchen counter ready for the next accident." Ms Dempsey said.

In 2013 an articulated lorry smashed through a concrete fence and trees into a garden, coming to a stop only a few years from a house.

Residents at that time warned Laois County Council that they would have "blood on their hands" if the road was not made safer.

The council followed up by lowering the speed limit to 60km/h, changing the road surface and doing works on a bridge However residents now say more is needed.

"We are calling for the council to do a proper job," said resident and meeting facilitator Shauna O'Kane.

"Every time the council addresses one part of the road it just pushes the problem up the other end. They left a mile long stretch that we live on that is hazardous and dangerous. Take the bends out and divert traffic off the N7 onto a better road." Ms O'Kane said.

The residents believe many factors need to be addressed to make Kilmullen road safer.

They point to the high traffic volumes, now estimated at 4,000 vehicles a day, as the road is the main route for traffice from the motorway westward.

They say traffic is speeding, despite a 60km/h speed limit.

The road surface, dangerous double bends and even overgrown hedges are all believed to contribute to the dangerous stretch.

The residents are seeking immediate action by Laois County Council starting with the installation of a speed van on the busy regional road, and solar speed flashing lights to warn cars of their speed, as well as a road surface test.

They also want the bends in the road taken out and due to the high volume of cars on the regional road a day.

Residents said that they “fear for their lives” even leaving their drive ways due to the speed of cars and lorry's coming around corners.

They have fears when mowing their lawns, and letting their children wait at the gate for the school bus in the mornings.

Cllrs Tom Mulhall, Aidan Mullins and Deputy Sean Fleming TD were at the meeting to discuss an action plan for the road in a bid to stop the carnage.

Dep Fleming urged the residents to “act now” and to keep the pressure on the council.

The councillors agreed and advised the meeting that they need to send a deputation with a list of their demands to the council. They also need to request that the road be put in for remedial works by the council in 2018.

"The money is there for the immediate works such as the speed van and solar lights installation," said Cllr Mulhall.

"The rest can be provided for in the 2018 budget,” he said.

Cllr Mullins added that 'if it is really urgent funding can be made available."

The residents agreed to request a deputation with the council immediately.