Councill fears death is inevitable
Laois County Council and Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) have been warned that somebody will die in a car crash at a junction on the busy N80 between Carlow and Portlaoise.
Cllr Aisling Moran highlighted the problem at a recent meeting where she called on the to Council replace the signs near the Ashfield junction on the N80 at Arles and also seek an update on the meeting with the TII which she requested for the making safe of this junction almost two years ago.
Cllr Moran warned that it's not the first time she raised the alarm over the danger to life at the recent Portarlington Graiguecullen Municipal District meeting.
"Someone will be killed at this junction. Someone from the TII, if they are making the decisions, needs to come out and look at this. I want them to put a baby in the back of a car and drive from the Ashfield (junction) onto the main road and turn right and see how fast they can do it and how much of a heart attack they have. It's an absolute disgrace," she said.
The councillor said a farmer has agreed to allow the removal of part of a property to facilitate the work needed.
"It can be made safe, very simply," she said.
The official reply from Laois County Council was that the two recently damaged signs can be repaired at this junction. As for the works needed she was told that the council's road design would arrange a site meeting with the elected member and Area Engineer to discuss possible safety measures at this location.
Cllr Moran said she has been raising the issue for two years but nobody has met with her at the location. She said the problem can only be solved by the national agency.
"They're the ones paying the money. They're the ones who I want to talk with," she said.
Cllr Paschal McEvoy warned that TII will not meet councillors. He said no officials from the agency had met any public representative in his eight years.
"They won't meet councillors and that's a fact of life," said Cllr McEvoy.
Cllr Moran was annoyed.
"That's a disgrace. They have no respect for us or the people. Why are they not answerable. It is pubic money that they are using to fix roads," she said.
She added that all the relevant State agencies will meet councilors to discuss local issues in every constituency. She said it is not enough for TII officials to sit behind desks and look at maps.
Senior Executive Engineer confirmed that TII staff do meet with council officials. He added that the best approach is to meet with the council's roads engineer in the first instance who would take up the matter with TII to get the money for the safety scheme.
Cllr Moran agreed to this proposal.
"It's going on too long. We are playing with people's lives here," she said.
Cllr Padraig Fleming said he agreed 100% and had raised the danger at the junction previously himself as had Cllr Ben Brennan.
"It has never been resolved. It is treacherous," he said.
He hoped the danger can be addressed but the scheme of works is unlikely to be approved for at least a year. He added that completing the work would be difficult without funding being given the green light by TII and the Government.
A spokesperson for TII told the Leinster Express that the agency meets annually with all county councils to discuss roads projects. While not aware what the practice is in Laois County Council, he said councillors have attended these meetings around Ireland.
He insisted that TII works 'hand in glove' with the roads sections of Laois and other local authorities but that not every project can be completed funding is limited.
The spokesperson was adamant that TII inspectors will visit the locations of the road safety projects with council engineers as part of a decision-making process on whether work should be funded.
He also insisted that TII takes road safety 'very seriously' adding that the county councils are the local roads authority and that TII is a statutory standards agency.
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