Bawnmore Cross — Are we waiting for schoolchildren to die?

Last week another truck overturned at Bawnmore Cross in Claregalway, spilling its load of huge logs across the road, onto the walls and into a field. This was the thirtieth time that an accident has happened here in the past few years, but the more remarkable fact is that nobody has yet been killed, given its proximity to a local national school. Last week, Cllr Malachy Noone said that it is only a matter of time before we see a school uniform trapped under those logs and now locals have said they have had enough.

An urgent call has been made to the Galway County Council to carry out road works to alleviate the serious accident black spot at Bawnmore crossroads in Claregalway. The Loughgeorge to Corrandulla road has, for many years, been used as a rat run to avoid heavy traffic on the Galway/Tuam road (N17 ) and the Galway/Headford road.

However over the past four to five years an inordinate amount of traffic accidents have taken place as vehicles attempt to the take the bend at Bawnmore cross heading to Corrandulla. “We have lost count of the amount of cars, vans and trucks that have come to grief here” said local resident Padraig Molloy. “It is the grace of God that nobody has been killed, but it is only a matter of time until that does happen” he added.

Such has been the frequency of accidents that the local residents have now become well versed in how to deal with them when they do happen. “Unfortunately, we all now have our own roles in relation to the traffic incidents. Some of us call the emergency services, others check with the occupants of the vehicles, direct traffic and oversee the crash site and that is a sad indication of just how many accidents have occurred at this location and how many times we have had to deal with them” said Johnny Walsh, whose house wall has been regularly knocked by cars and trucks.

A look at the walls on either side of the road at this accident black spot tells its own story. The original stone wall on the left hand side of the road has been broken down by constantly having vehicles crash into it and is now in a sorry state. The recently-constructed solid stone wall on the opposite side has been frequently rebuilt after the numerous accidents. Leaked diesel, petrol and oil from the traffic incidents serve to make the road surface dangerous. The poles and road signage have also been replaced down through the years after taking a hammering from vehicles that have collided into them.

“The problem is simple to see – the camber of the road is wrong; it pulls vehicles in towards the brink as you negotiate the bend. Indeed, the road actually appears to be wearing down as you go around the bend, such is the volume of traffic on it. Surely this issue could be resolved quickly? If it isn’t there will be deaths on this stretch of road and then it will be too late. We are highlighting an issue which, if not resolved, will end in tragedy” urged another local Sean Walsh, best known for his hurling commentaries on Galway Bay fm.

Mary Tarpey Burke explains the mental anguish it has caused to the people of the area.

“We are living in fear. On Tuesday of last week a timber lorry crashed, shed its load and blocked the road. If it had been a school week, then school kids and their guardians could have been wiped out on the way to or from the school. We fear that, at any time, there will be carnage at this section of road. We are begging the authorities to solve the problem. What price do you put on life?” Mary concluded.

Indeed, Mary and her husband Gerry have seen their house wall take an ongoing battering and have had to rebuild it numerous times. Locals reckon that over 30 accidents – mainly single vehicle incidents - have occurred over the past few years at the location, some reported, others not. The fact that the local National School is only a short distance away only serves to heighten the anxiety in the area, while observers have also noticed a marked increase in the amount of heavy goods vehicles that use the road which further serves to impact and cut into the surface of the road.

“The time has arrived to do something” said Frances Molloy. “We are like prisoners in our own homes looking out at a road where the volume of traffic and speed of the vehicles at the bend in question will lead to someone losing their life. Why have the Council and local representatives not dealt with a situation that has been ongoing for a number of years now?”

Indeed, the dept of feeling of anger and frustration is palatable from the local residents. Traffic calming measures have not been implemented and users of the road have not been made aware of the dangers of the bend with no road signage in place to call on drivers to slow down.

A graphic picture was painted by local Councillor Malachy Noone when he said “that it is only a matter of time before a child in a school uniform is pulled from under the logs in an accident at Bawnmore”.

“That is the reality” said Sonny O’Brien, who is chairman of the local Community Alert Group. “The time for talking is over. Everyone has now been warned. People are taking their lives in their own hands by travelling on this stretch of road. If we don’t act now, it will be too late.”

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