The officials of Mayo County Council will be held personally responsible if a person is killed in a car accident on the Westport Road out of Castlebar.
That’s according to local Independent councillor Frank Durcan who described it as the “worst stretch of road in this county”. However council officials were quick to inform Cllr Durcan that it is the National Roads Authority which has responsibility for this road and not Mayo County Council.
At a meeting of the Castlebar Electoral Area committee on Monday Cllr Durcan said a list of 24 accidents between the roundabout and the corner on the Westport Road have been documented by local residents. To date there have been no fatalities but the councillor said it was only a matter of time before someone was killed. Cllr Durcan asked Monday’s meeting if there was a traffic calming plan in place for the Westport Road.
He described situations where cars have mounted footpaths with pedestrians having to jump to safety, in another situation a car ended up in a front garden, in another incident a trailer detached itself from a tractor and mounted a footpath.
Senior executive engineer Anne Sweeney told Cllr Durcan that if accidents are recorded by the gardaí they become part of a database which the NRA uses to devise their road plans. She explained that the stretch of road which Cllr Durcan referred to was not the responsibility of Mayo County Council but the NRA.
However, regardless of who is responsible, Cllr Durcan, a resident of the offending road, wants action in the next few months. He said both he and his daughter had been involved in accidents since last Christmas.
It was reiterated to Cllr Durcan by senior engineer Patsy Burke that the NRA have total responsibility for the allocation of funds for this road. Funding, he explained, is generated on the basis of accident records. He said while it might seem to the people of the Westport Road that it is a priority area, all roads are looked at on a national basis by the NRA. Mr Burke also pointed out that the NRA budget has been drastically reduced. However, funding has been granted for a section of road in the Ballyheane area which has been the site of several accidents, according to Ms Sweeney.
Another “death trap” highlighted by Cllr Durcan was the Partry to Harrington’s Pub stretch. “People cannot come out of their houses with the speed of traffic on that road. It has to be included in a scheme,” he added.
He was supported by Cllr Blackie Gavin who said there was a serious accident in that area only last week. Cllr Gavin, a member of the fire service, said he has attended several accidents on the Westport Road also. He described the exit from the Mountgordon Estate as “frightening”.