THERE is no County Council money available for vehicle-activated signs in Leap that the community says are urgently needed before an accident happens.
Instead of installing the signs, which cost €3,400 each, a speed survey is to be carried out by the local authority in the coming weeks to ‘quantify the problem’ and see how it can be improved.
Local councillors had requested the signage as an urgent solution to what has become known as the ‘Mondello racetrack’ in Leap.
And they’ve responded furiously to the Council’s reaction, saying the survey is a waste of time, and insisting the money is found.
The issue was first raised in last week’s edition of The Southern Star, and councillors say they have been inundated with phone calls and emails from people in Leap, especially parents, who are desperately concerned about the speed of traffic through the village ever since the road surface was upgraded.
Of greatest concern is what Cllr Christopher O’Sullivan (FF) called ‘the spaghetti junction’ – a convergence right in the middle of the village from which people turn off for the school, the church, the community playground, a busy shop and garage, as well as a side road leading to Glandore.
Cllr O’Sullivan said: ‘We have all got the emails and phone calls and there is a demand that we prioritise where there are schools.
‘People are coming from all angles, and it is dangerous,’ said Cllr O’Sullivan. It has become so dangerous, in fact, that the school has changed its collection practice and is now insisting that parents call to the door of the school to collect their children.
That was one of the reasons that Cllrs Joe Carroll (FF), Cllr Danny Collins (Ind) and Cllr Paul Hayes (SF) tabled a motion calling on Transport Infrastructure Ireland to introduce traffic calming measure ‘as a matter of urgency’.
Area engineer Michel Tobin confirmed that Leap National School, and the Leap and Glandore playschool, who also use the school building, have made similar requests.
However, he made the point that all of these services are contained within the 50km speed limit and there are clearly visible signs indicating the limit.
Mr Tobin said that drivers should obey the signage that already exists and that it is an offence if this is not being done. ‘The gardaí are responsible for enforcing the speed limit,’ he reminded councillors.
Mr Tobin said as part of the recent road improvements the carriageway in this area was kerbed and the road width of approximately six metres ‘is the minimum required road width … and is also a traffic calming measure.’
To consider further traffic calming measures, Mr Tobin said that there has to be a ‘need’ – something that would quantify the extent of the problem and how it can be improved.
As part of an initial assessment, he said he would get a speed survey done in the next couple of weeks and depending on the outcome of that, it will give a direction on what measures may be needed.
He said that at present there is no funding available for driver feedback signs – the kind that tell motorists the speed they are travelling at – but said that with ‘community funding’ it might be possible under one of three categories covered by the Clár programme.
The councillors were clearly unhappy with the engineer’s response. Cllr Carroll said: ‘The urgency of this must be recognised.’ And, for once, he wasn’t joking, when he said: ‘Find the money or put the potholes back.
‘We can’t take this report back to the people of Leap. They will block the road with protests if something isn’t done and soon. I am sure the other councillors feel as strongly as I do. There is no need for a traffic study – just look at it for an hour and your mind would be made up.’
Cllr Hayes told the Council officials: ‘We are inundated with messages and emails from very concerned residents and those involved with the school and playschool. Everyone thinks the road surface is fantastic but unfortunately it is now like a racetrack it is so smooth.’
Cllr Collins agreed, saying: ‘This is a no-brainer. It’s like Mondello.’
Cllr Declan Hurley (Ind) said: ‘There needs to be some kind of physical barrier, some physical traffic calming, because it is the only thing that will slow the traffic down.’
Cllr Carroll had the last word. He said: ‘This is the most serious speed matter I have seen in any town or village in West Cork.
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