THE “huge frustration” felt by residents awaiting works to be carried out at the junction of the Shanaway Road and the N85 Lahinch Road has been highlighted, as the route to the coast is expected to become even busier with the resumption of travel within the county this week.
A meeting of the Ennis Municipal District heard this week that revised design options are being prepared by the Council’s Road Design Office following a request from Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII).
Councillor Mary Howard raised the issue in a notice of motion asking for an update on “proposed traffic controls” at the junction which sees traffic “backed up every day”, describing the current situation as “crazy”.
The councillor questioned if there had been any recent engagement with TII; what funding has been allocated for the project; has there been engagement with local property owners and is there a proposed timeline to start and complete the necessary works?
John Gannon, senior executive engineer, replied, “The Road Design Office (RDO) have been engaging, on a regular basis, with the TII regarding the junction of Shanaway Road and the N85 / Lahinch Road. The RDO have submitted design engineering options to the TII as part of this process. At our last meeting with the TII the RDO has been requested to review design options giving consideration to Active Travel Measures for the area. Revised design options are now being prepared in this regard.”
Reacting to the response, Councillor Howard stated, “There is huge frustration among residents at Shanaway. They are stuck in traffic every single day, even with the amount of traffic gone down due to Covid, the road is still backed up.” She said the residents have been “hugely patient, but this has been going on for years and years. They can be waiting ten or 15 minutes to get out onto the main road, it’s only crazy.”
Councillor Johnny Flynn voiced his support saying, “This has been an ongoing problem for the last 14 or 15 years since the development of significant housing estates.” He pointed out that there are also sporting facilities and a hotel in the area. “The N85 will get very busy once Covid restrictions are relaxed,” he said, adding he believes the only solution is traffic lights. He acknowledged the “diligent” work of the road design office, but criticised TII saying the national roads agency “have too much say on our roads and are delaying a solution”.
Councillor Ann Norton commented that local representatives are being regularly contacted by residents to voice their concerns about the junction. She questioned why a mobility plan wasn’t put in place when planning permission was granted to large housing estates in the area. She said that road design is just the first step in what is a long term project and “this is something that needs to be pushed along very quickly”. She said that the works should have been done when planning permission was granted to building companies.
Councillor Clare Colleran Molloy stated that the Shanaway Road residents’ “patience has been tried”. She stated that there are many locations throughout Ennis where issues have to be “teased out”, suggesting a meeting be organised between the councillors and the Road Design Office.
The “huge movement to the coast” on the route once Covid restrictions are lifted was referenced by Councillor Mark Nestor who said that improvements to the junction are a matter of “urgency”. He said a workshop is needed with councillors and the Road Design Office, adding, “If it has to happen in a car park I would gladly go so long as we have a meeting.”
Councillor Pat Daly commented, “If you compare the Shanaway Road from 20 years ago to now there is an awful difference. There’s a hotel, a GAA club, the golf club, there’s ten times the amount of houses.
“Yet the exit onto the Lahinch Road has had no change, something seriously has to be done.” He spoke in favour of installing traffic lights. He also stressed the importance of taking on board the views of a local business which relies on passing trade.
Councillor Howard concluded by stating, “It’s going on too long, it’s ridiculous. We’ve no problem giving people planning permission and taking nice big chunks of fees from them without putting in place the infrastructure to allow them to live peacefully and safe.”
Mayor of Ennis, Councillor Paul Murphy added his support, stating, “anything with TII involved seems to go around in circles.”
The discussion concluded with Leonore O’Neill, senior executive officer, stating a meeting with the senior executive engineer Mr Gannon could be facilitated.