The proposed provision of speed ramps in one of the largest housing estates in South-East Clare has experienced something of a bumpy ride, with differing views expressed by two local county councillors.
Councillor Cathal Crowe has requested Clare County Council to install speed ramps in the Westbury Housing Estate, which he described as akin to “Mondello race track” particularly at weekends.
Councillor Pascal Fitzgerald agreed some form of traffic-calming measures are needed to slow down traffic in the estate but he favours the provision of more chicanes, which cause less noise and don’t run the risk of damaging motor vehicles.
Councillor Crowe warned all of this speeding takes place in close proximity to open spaces where children play.
“A number of years ago a car even crashed through a garden hedge before coming to an abrupt halt at somebody’s front door. The situation is extremely dangerous and if action isn’t taken to slow cars down, there will be a serious accident. A solution must be found,” he said.
Westbury was taken over by Clare County Council on January 21 last. With in excess of 900 houses and a road system of more than 10 kilometres, Westbury is one of the largest housing estates in Munster. The estate has been developed in several phases since the mid-’90s by McInerney Homes and Chieftain Construction, which are no longer trading.
According to Councillor Crowe, the taking in charge of Westbury was achieved on a cost-neutral basis. Each phase of the estate’s development required developers to lodge substantial bonds with insurance companies at the behest of Clare County Council’s Planning Department. For months, council officials were locked in negotiations with Allianz Insurance, who hold the largest of these bonds. It was recently agreed that upwards of€500,000 of these bonds would be released to Clare County Council to be used to rectify a number of infrastructural problems in the estate.
In the short-term, a large proportion of this funding will be spent on upgrading the estate’s sewer and storm water dispersal systems.
While Councillor Crowe fully understands and appreciates that the council need to prioritise spending on putting Westbury’s sewage and storm-water systems right, he says he will continue to lobby for funds to be released to install a network of speed ramps on the estate’s main distributor road.
“A series of chicanes do their part to slow down cars as they enter the estate but it doesn’t take long for motorists to build up speed as they travel down the straight stretch of roadway between Fernleigh, Clonard, Riverdale and Grianan. At weekends, this particular section can resemble the race track at Mondello,” he said.
However, Councillor Fitzgerald believes the council should examine other alternatives to speed ramps, such as chicanes, which he has seen working effectively in Ballyfermot, Dublin.
A number of residents have contacted Councillor Fitzgerald expressing their opposition to speed ramps due to the noise and possible damage to motor vehicles.
He acknowledged that some residents and visitors were driving too fast around the estate, which posed a risk of a traffic accident, particularly vehicles coming out from a cul-de-sac or a row of houses onto the main entrance and exit road.
Senior executive engineer Hugh McGrath said expenditure on any works in Westbury Estate will focus on dealing with issues in terms of relating to items as outlined regarding rectification and maintenance of essential services.