By Kieran O’Mahony
THE poor state of the roads in Cork is, according to some councillors, a hindrance to a new Cork Road Safety Plan, which seeks to promote road safety and reduce the number of deaths on the roads.
A Road Safety Working Group for both Cork county and city has been established in consultation with stakeholders like the HSE, National Ambulance Service and the fire services, to look at local issues relevant to Cork.
At a recent meeting of Cork County Council, the plan was discussed with Cllr Gobnait Moynihan (FF) pointing out that the plan is called the ‘Road Safety Plan’ but that the N22 is not ‘safe’.
‘We need this bypass for Macroom and it’s clear it’s not the priority of Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) and I’m disgusted,’ said Cllr Moynihan.
Cllr Bob Ryan (FF) said the lack of a bypass is becoming a major issue and said it appears it will be ‘further long-fingered post 2021.’
‘This is not acceptable and the lack of a bypass is a major impediment to the economic development of the region and there’s no doubt the road is in a bad way and is a health and safety risk,’ said Cllr Ryan.
‘It’s a no-brainer really, and we have to meet the Minister Shane Ross and the TII and we have to advance it and put pressure on them.’
Cllr Ryan also said that there had been discussions between both Cork County Council and Kerry County Council about the possibility of organising a joint approach to push for the N22 bypass.
Cllr Joe Carroll (FF) pointed out that it is the responsibility of the local authority to provide a safe road, but that the lack of hedge cutting on many roads was making it dangerous for all road users, despite it being the responsibility of the landowners to cut hedges on their land.
‘The driver doesn’t care who cuts the hedges but it’s quite clear across West Cork that landowners are not going to cut hedges on their land, and then it’s back in the hands of the Council. Cork County Council may have to be firmer as I know of plenty of landowners who have no intention of hedge cuttings. I pay tax on my car and I demand safe roads,’ said Cllr Carroll. ‘They’re just not going to do it and there’s no one saying anything to them. Some are even absentee landlords and could live 60km from the land they own.’
Cllr Gillian Coughlan (FF) said that road surfaces are the key to road safety and there was woefully inadequate investment in roads.
‘The N71 is the main routeway to West Cork, with thousands of cars driving through during the summer. The surface is disgraceful and it’s not fit to be called a secondary route. We also need some remedial action on stretches like coming into Bandon from Billy Cahalane’s service station,’ said Cllr Coughlan.
‘It’s in a dreadful state and not ideal for visitors coming into the town and we have the Tidy Towns Committee working hard to improve the area but the roads let them down. It’s absolutely disgraceful.’
Cllr Paul Hayes (SF) said a lot of work had gone into drafting this document but said that it will count for nothing unless they have input from TII.
‘It has to be made abundantly clear to TII that we need action on our road surfaces,’ said Cllr Hayes.
Cllr Danny Collins (Ind) said the roads in West Cork are a disgrace and said some patches of the N71 ‘like cobble stones.’ Cllr Collins also said he had heard of tourists losing their deposits on their rental cars because they had damaged them on the bad road surfaces.
Cllr Alan Coleman (Ind) said he commended the report but admitted there are serious problems with the roads. ‘There’s no doubt we have serious problems but the Council should use this report as leverage with TII. We should use it wisely and hopefully we get funding,’ said Cllr Coleman.
Deputising for the chief executive of Cork County Council, Declan Daly said the report was a little bit broader than what was bought up by councilors, but pointed out that the N22 bypass has a status and that Cork and Kerry priorities need to be matched.
It’s envisaged the Cork Road Safety Plan 2016-2020 will be launched mid-September.