Barley Hill action is urgently required or lives could be lost

By Colm Gannon

Councillors in the West Mayo Municipal District have called for some works to be done at Barley Hill, between Newport and Westport, before a life is lost on the road there.

The Cathaoirleach of the district, Fianna Fáil Cllr Brendan Mulroy, told the January meeting of the local authority that he had been informed of another near miss at the location last Saturday, where a woman who was travelling on the road met a tractor coming around the corner on the wrong side of the road and nearly ended up going over the side and down into the field. He added that "there is no point in a family googling to see how we have raised this issue numerous times after a tragedy has occurred."

Indpendent Cllr Michael Holmes told the meeting that: "The next thing to a close thing there is a fatality - if a coach or someone goes down there, there will be no need to call for the emergency services - because it will roll and roll and roll down 100m until it stops with everything in it.

"I know a new road is to be done and that will take care of it, but in the short term there is something that needs to be done as an emergency measure. We have heard before that a barrier won't work if there is no room there, but that proves our point.

"You can put barriers there - if you put down steel girders there long enough they will hit the ground somewhere, they have to. It won't stop them crashing into the barrier but it at least it will stop them going down, that is what I am afraid of.

"In the short term and it might not even be that short, because we don't know how long the new road will take, TII need to take responsibility for it and I would ask the officials here to make a special plea to TII to explain the concerns of not only the local representatives, but of the public, about what is going on.

"There are school buses going up and down that road every day and school bus drivers tell me time and time again that they have their hearts in their mouth going around there. I wonder where the health and safety concerns are, because if I put up a wrong board on a scaffolding on a site I will be closed down - where we have people who are driving along a road where the only gap between the end of the road and eternity is six inches wide."

Head of the district for Mayo County Council, Padraig Walsh, told the meeting that he would arrange to make the case to TII in the short term and try to get the contractor, when appointed, to look at it as a matter of serious concern.

"In relation to Barley Hill, my understanding is that a contractor will be appointed in quarter three of this year and I suppose as soon as that appointment is made, we can press upon them with the head of roads and the contractor, the importance of maybe trying to bring the Barley Hill element of it as early as possible in the construction programme. In any case I will talk to the head of roads and impress on him there has been another close shave and get him to impress on TII that we would like a temporary measure put in place."

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