Left: Seán Byrne, who is visually impaired with his guidedog has to face heavy trucks on the road
Residents in Mountrath and the Laois representative of the National Council for the Blind in Ireland have sought the support of public representatives to have a path installed in the area.
People who live on the road have to face a stream of traffic which are making walking and cycling treacherous. They say there is constant HGV traffic using this road to and from sandpits, farms etc.
PJ Gorman wrote a letter on behalf of Spa Hill / Forest area in Mountrath to Cllr James Kelly and other politicians seeking his support for a path to be finished by the council.
In the letter, Mr Gorman outlines the situation and sets out what is needed.
“This is a residential area with over 40 houses (circa 100) residents which extends from the Forest area to Mountrath town.
“A large number of residents walk this road daily to get to and from the town. One resident who is visually impaired must negotiate this route daily with his guide dog in order to get into town.
“The roadway is also used extensively by townspeople as part of a popular walking loop. There is an increasingly high volume of vehicular traffic using this roadway daily from HGVs, school buses, agricultural machinery, delivery vans, cars etc, and, as you can appreciate, this roadway has become extremely hazardous for residents.
“A number of years ago following representation from the residents, Laois County County Council commenced installing a pathway along this roadway but, unfortunately, it was never finished.
“As a matter of urgency and in the interest of everyone’s safety we are asking that this pathway be finally completed by the council and to this end we are asking for your help and support,” concluded the letter to public representatives.
Nicola McHugh is the Community Resource Worker with the National Council for the Blind Ireland.
She has endorsed the campaign by residents in the Spa Hill/Forest area of the town for a footpath to be installed.
In a letter to public representatives, she agrees that it is a busy road and a pavement is needed to ensure there is a safe walkway into and out of Mountrath.
“Living with visual impairment can often result in a person’s mobility being greatly compromised, and accessibility within the everyday environment is much more limited to that of someone who is fully sighted. This footpath would ensure that someone with a vision impairment would have a reliable surface underfoot to enable use of a long cane or make it much easier for someone with a guide dog to travel the route. MOre below picture.
“I am aware of at least one individual who is visually impaired living in Spa Hill / Forest area and, for that reason I wish to strongly support the request to extend the footpath. I believe this footpath would be invaluable in terms of safety and access,” concluded her letter.
Cllr James Kelly called on the council to carry out a survey on the Spa Hill to Forest Road Mountrath with the purpose of installing the unfinished footpath for the safety of all road users when he raised the issue at the recent Borris-in-Ossory Mountmellick Municipal District meeting.
“It is a very busy road with a lot of bad bends. It extends from Forest to the town and a large number of people walk it daily. There is one resident who is visually impaired who has to negotiate the route daily with his guide dog. It is a big concern that there are no footpaths,” he said. MORE BELOW PICTURE.
He said the council did start work towards installing a footpath but it was never finished. He accepted that other work had been done but added that ‘it was not the finished article” in terms of safety.
“I propose that we get some funding to get the footpaths to make it safer,” he said.
The Independent councillor in the area and the TDs received a letter from the residents and the National Council for the Blind.
Mr. Farhan Nasiem, A/S.E.E., Road Design, replied that the council’s Road Design will carry out a survey of the existing road and prepare a report for works which are required at this location.
Cllr Kelly said he would make contact with the engineer to move the process forward.
The motion, which was seconded by Cllr Paddy Bracken, was supported by the other members of the Municipal District, Cllr Seamus McDonald, Cllr Conor Bergin and Cllr John King.
The residents acknowledge other correspondence from Laois County Council recently but say the work is urgently needed.