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Councillor Pat Hayes (FF)

Motorists putting their lives at risk at dangerous junction

A CONCERTED campaign is being sought to tackle a junction on the main artery into East Clare, where people are “putting their lives at risk”.
Several members of the Killaloe Municipal District issued stark warnings about the situation at Henchy’s Cross on the R352.
The intersection is one of the preferred routes for traffic coming from the mart in Ennis and Shannon Airport onto the busy regional road.
At the November meeting of the district, Councillor Pat Hayes appealed to the Killaloe director to make a case for major safety works.
Efforts have been ongoing to secure funding from the Department of Transport for a major €2m scheme.
To date, this has not been approved and the meeting heard that interim safety works are expected to begin next year.
A frustrated Councillor Hayes said there had been several accidents at the junction and he did not want to see fatalities happen.
“I’m calling on our Director of Services to take a particular interest and to make the case for major works,” he said.
“We can’t stand by and tinker around with minor works. That won’t resolve the problem. People are putting their lives at risk coming out there. They are really at risk here. I don’t want to be the one to see emergency services and loss of life. There have been several accidents to date.”
The Cather native also sought a timescale for proposed interim works. He also acknowledged the works done by council to date.
“We need a two-pronged approach: short term work as soon as possible and to push politically at national level,” he said.
The motion was seconded by Cathaoirleach Councillor Joe Cooney.
“We are well aware of serious concerns about traffic safety,” he said. “I welcome the short term measures. We all want to see major job done, but this is a help.”
Senior Executive Officer (SEO) Morgan Lahiffe agreed with Councillor Hayes’s comments.
“We all recognise the importance to work needing to be done,” he said.
“The strategic work plan is to improve the R352 including Henchy’s Cross. There is a commitment from Killaloe Municipal District shown by putting to Department the €2m plan as a long-term measure.
“We all agree it needs a long-term measure. It needs significant investment. The Roads Design section will continue to fight year-on-year.”
Mr Lahiffe also outlined how the R352 was listed in the submission by the council to the National Development Plan (NDP) and highlighted as an important strategic route.
“We don’t have the money as it is,” he said. “What we’re left with is to do a low-cost solution. All projects which involve land and houses are intricate.”
Councillor Pat Burke repeated his view that the Green Party influence on government is a barrier to securing major funding.
“I meet a lot of people who suggest that the safety of the junction is more important than cycle lanes in Ennis,” he remarked.
A detailed reply from John Gannon, Senior Executive Engineer (SEE) in Road Design outlined how the interim works will improve visibility and provide advance of road narrowing and the hidden dip while encouraging motorists to reduce speed.
SEE Niamh Madden said with the design now substantially finalised and consultation with landowners nearing an end, the aim is to carry out works in early 2022.
Mr Lahiffe confirmed that €100,000 allocated for works in 2021would be carried over into next year.

About Fiona McGarry

Fiona McGarry joined The Clare Champion as a reporter after a four-year stint as producer of Morning Focus on Clare FM. Prior to that she worked for various radio, print and online titles, including Newstalk, Maximum Media and The Tuam Herald. Fiona’s media career began in her native Mayo when she joined Midwest Radio. She is the maker of a number of radio documentaries, funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI). She has also availed of the Simon Cumbers Media Fund to report on development issues supported by Irish Aid in Haiti. She won a Justice Media Award for a short radio series on the work of Bedford Row Project, which supports prisoners and families in the Mid-West. Fiona also teaches on the Journalism programmes at NUI Galway. If you have a story and would like to get in touch with Fiona you can email her at fmcgarry@clarechampion.ie or telephone 065 6864146.

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