Lethally dangerous roads are putting the lives of children at risk in two Westmeath towns.
The state of the road between Tubberclair National School and the local church, and from St Manchan’s Terrace to the GAA Pitch on the Clara Road, Moate, were raised by councillors at the recent Athlone area meeting.
As a result, two Westmeath landowners will be approached about providing land to the council to make safer footpaths for children.
There is a footpath at Tubberclair, but Cllr Frankie Keena said the road is so narrow, two vehicles can’t meet without one having to mount the footpath.
Speaking at the recent Athlone Area meeting, Cllr Keena said it is a busy, rural road, regularly used by students, and he had photos of a dangerous manoeuvre involving a car, tractor, and lorry there.
Because land on one side has recently changed ownership, it might be worth speaking to the new landowner, he said.
Cllr Mark Cooney agreed that there are difficulties in the village particularly if there is a large funeral.
At one point traffic on the footpath has worn it almost level with the road, he said.
But he believed the new owner might be amenable to engaging with the council if the boundary wall, which would have to be knocked, will be replaced.
Athlone engineer Pat Nally said that if councillors want to engage with the landowner, and if he’s agreeable to giving the land at no cost other than the replacement of the wall, the council will look at it.
However, he said there are no funds to replace a stone wall this year.
It may be more difficult to secure the agreement needed to widen the road in Moate.
Cllr Tom Allen said the road to the GAA pitch is extremely dangerous and is extremely busy with a lot of young people going there for training and matches.
He said local GAA members are anxious for the footpath to be extended to the pitch before there’s an accident.
“It would be terrible if some child got hurt on the road, just because of a couple of feet of hedging or ditch,” he said.
Efforts had been made in the past to engage with the landowner, he said, but that was during the boom times when there was potential for other development there.
Cllr Gabrielle McFadden went a step further, suggesting there should be footpaths adjacent to all sports grounds to help reduce obesity.
“If we had paths, kids could walk or cycle and be safe like we were in the past, and not be driven everywhere,” she said, agreeing that it was an extremely dangerous road with “cars flying” past.
Pat Nally said that if the landowner is agreeable, the council could look at putting in a boundary this year and a footpath next year.