Limerick councillors feel “bulldozed” by national transport agency

Fine Gael Councillor Adam Teskey.

LOCAL councillors have voiced their lack of confidence in Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) after a failure to reduce the speed limit as part of traffic calming measures in West Limerick.

At last Monday’s meeting of Limerick City and County Council, elected representatives were asked to consider the Part 8 planning for the proposed N21 Coolanoran Traffic Calming Scheme.

In heated scenes at County Hall, councillors were clear in their opposition to the traffic calming scheme going ahead without the speed limit being reduced from 100kph to 60kph on proposed works over a 270-metre stretch in Ardagh.

The proposed works would provide the installation of a designated cycle path, the installation of build-outs, surface water drainage, pavement resurfacing, road markings, and associated site works.

Fine Gael councillor Adam Teskey objected to the scheme going ahead without a reduction in the speed limit. He hit out at TII for their “complete disregard in refusing to meet with local representatives” on the matter.

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Cllr Teskey pointed out that the works were next to a 24-hour filling station, which could lead to “panic braking” as a result of motorists indicating late that they are turning in.

“Why it hasn’t been made a priority to reduce speed is beyond me. Why we aren’t been listened to is uncourteous and shows a total disregard. I can’t support these works,” he said.

Cllr Stephen Keary (FG) agreed with these sentiments and described the stretch in question as “very fast and very dangerous”.

“There has been a number of fatalities in the last number of years. It is an extremely busy stretch used by truckers. I just cannot support the proposal in its present form without speed reduction.

“We are being lead by the TII continuously. People are not happy. This is a major catastrophe waiting to happen,” Cllr Keary warned.

Cllr Liam Galvin (FG) was of the view that the proposal made no sense without a reduction in the speed limit and felt there would be problems if it wasn’t addressed.

“Is the tail wagging the dog or the dog wagging the tail?” he asked the Council executive.

Council Director of Transport Brian Kennedy explained that TII deemed the current speed limit appropriate and as they had already adjudicated this could not be altered until a speed review in four years time.

“We do not have the authority to change the speed limit here,” he said.

Fine Gael councillor John Sheahan took the view that TII objects to every road application. He told council members that maybe it was now time to stand up to them.

“These people do not instil confidence in us. I have no confidence in them. This is an affront to democracy. TII have a total disregard and shown disrespect to us,” Cllr Sheahan declared.

Cllr Sarah Kiely hit out at that TII have made a mockery of the Part 8 planning system.

“If we accept these proposals, we’re damned. If we don’t accept these proposals, we’re damned,” she suggested.

Fianna Fáil councillor Kevin Sheahan also took umbrage at TII’s refusal to reduce the speed limit as part of the traffic calming measures in Ardagh.

I am not taking it any longer,” he declared.

Labour Party councillor Joe Leddin was equally unimpressed with the proposal on the table, saying: “This is the complete demise of local government. It is time to put down a marker.”

At the end of the debate, councillors voted to reject the Part 8 proposals.