Truck drivers could be fined for taking a national road through Portlaoise, instead of taking a ring road that cost millions to build, if new weight restrictions are introduced.
A weight restriction to stop heavy trucks driving on the N80 into Portlaoise is being considered by Laois County Council.
It comes after a councillor claimed that satnat is sending truckers onto a narrow side road where they get stuck, while others say the trucks are creating danger for cyclists.
The weight limit would be on the Mountmellick and Tullamore N80 road, following a request by Cllr Thomasina Moran from the Portlaoise Municipal District.
"We need to make it an offence to pass through Portlaoise as a HGV. A number of lorries are persistently driving through Portlaoise. We have alternative route for them to use the ring road out to the motorway. It doesn't seem to be happening. We need restrictions in place to prevent them.
"There are consistently lorries getting stuck on Greenmill Lane. Google maps is bringing them there and they get stuck at the bridge," she said.
She tabled a motion to the April meeting of Portlaoise Municipal District, requesting the council to start the process of imposing weight restrictions on the Mountmellick road, to reduce the number of HGVs passing through the town centre.
Cllr Catherine Fitzgerald seconded the motion and agrees.
"It is a narrow road, and the speed some lorries use would shake you. It is essential we bring in bye laws to prevent them," she said.
Local businesses must not feel the impact, urged Cllr Caroline Dwane Stanley.
"Weight restrictions will impact on businesses like Dunnes Stores, Victor's and Campus Oil. I'd suggest looking at the signs at Fairgreen Roundabout. They say N80 Town Centre, anybody driving in is being told, if you want the N80 you must drive through the town, they should be diverted right," she said.
Cllr Willie Aird said the trucks are making the road unsafe for cyclists.
"We cannot propose bicycle routes if we are not prepared to make the road safer. I saw this morning. a father, three children and the mother cycling at the back. There isn't the 2metres to pass by, we need little bollards. We are trying to include bicycles on an existing road where it is very narrow. If you want bikes you can't have HGVs," he said.
Cllr Dwane Stanley agrees.
"You are taking your life in your hands trying to cycle, it's a no-brainer to divert the traffic," she said.
The town manager Simon Walton said that weight restrictions if imposed, will not stop local access for deliveries.
"It is only on vehicles passing through Portlaoise. This requires consultation with An Garda Síochána. Once signs are erected, the onus is on drivers to obey it, if not they risk a fine," he said.
Asked by Cllr Connell how long it will take to set up the restrictions, he said "not long".
"I will be back to you with option at the June meeting. The N80 route will not change. Some of those signs would have to be amended," Mr Walton said.
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