The elected members of the Castlebar Municipal District have requested to meet Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII ) on site in Breaffy, to show them the necessity for a major reduction in the speed limit on the N60, that passes through the village.
The councillors held a special meeting this week to discuss their next steps in their campaign to get the speed limit reduced from the current 100km per hour limit. They are looking for the speed limit to be reduced to 60km on the stretch from the Cottage Road on the Castlebar side of the village to after the Post Office. They are also seeking for a 80km limit to be introduced on the stretch from the Cottage Road back towards Castlebar at Kilkenny Cross.
TII had agreed to a 80km per hour speed limit through the village - but this recommendation was rejected by the councillors and not included in the adopted Special Speed Limit Bye-Laws for the county in April last year, with the councillors wanting to push for a 60km per hour speed limit.
Fianna Fáil Cllr Blackie Gavin told the meeting that he was bitterly disappointed with the lack of progress on this issue and wanted the council to get TII to come to meet the councillors and officials on site in Breaffy, to show them the danger on the road.
The councillors were told by head of the district for Mayo County Council, Marie Crowley, that in reality, they would be starting this proposal afresh, following the adoption of the Special Speed Limit Bye-Laws last year.
Sinn Féin Cllr, Joe McHale, said: "We have hit a road block in this situation; is there anything in the meantime that could be done - like putting a speed van there, especially at critical times like school times in the morning and afternoon? It is quite obvious to everyone with common sense, that with the built up nature of the area, there should be a reduced speed limit. We can meet them and we should, but it could push it out for another six months."
Fianna Fáil Cllr Al McDonnell commented: "The campaign for a reduced speed limit in Breaffy has to continue. We have to deal with this with cool heads. I'm dissatisfied again with the TII - but I do remember before that there were people opposed to do this in the past, senior people in the council, but that has changed and I'm glad that all the management seem to agree that a reduced speed limit in Breaffy is needed.
"The community in Breaffy is a bit divided on it, which is my understanding; the question is, do we accept an interim improvement of 80km, which would help a bit, or do we go full belt for the 60km? I have an open mind on that, but my thinking would be that at the critical times of the day it would not around school times. There could be a temporary time limiting imposition at the crucial times of the morning but that was rejected by the community
Independent Cllr Michael Kilcoyne said: "I support the community, they rejected that - I don't see an interim solution, the community are being very patient, the problem is with the TII. If you drive to Dublin you will find the speed limit is much smaller villages is 60km.
Senior executive engineer for Mayo County Council, Anne Sweeney, said: "Everyone is of the same view, they want what is best for Breaffy and to make it safer, they might have different thoughts on that, but they all want what is best and we have to achieve it. The TII is a significant stake holder and we all have to deal with each other on it."
Fine Gael Cllr, Cyril Burke, said that more than just a speed limit reduction was needed on the road in the area to make it safer, saying: "I was canvasing out there the last few days, it is only when you are walking the roads that you really see it. It is not just reducing the speed limit, there are other issues too. There are people who agree with reducing the speed limit but then they wonder how they are going to get out of their own houses as well. The volume of traffic on that road, if it is slowed down, and if they wish to turn right from the opposite side of the road, and if all the traffic is stood still, they won't have a chance. Also, the train lines (level crossing at Manulla ) close 16 times during the day and that builds up a lot of traffic; then there are the current works in Balla, where there is a 40 car build up, and that traffic comes to Breaffy and they can't get out of their houses; so there has to be a practical approach at other junctions too for people to turn across the road.
"According to this it sounds like we will have to start again or the TII won't do it, so we should write and tell them we will start it again and get it going, or we could be back here in six months."
Fianna Fáil Cllr, Martin McLoughlin, agreed that other things need to be done, but added: "We should not lose sight of the 60km at this stage, there may be other things to do to increase safety, but we should not lose sight - if we have to restart the process we have to do it, but no matter where we go, we have to get the TII down."