There was a lot of anger from councillors over the lack of progress on getting speed limit reductions imposed at sensitive locations at the West Mayo Municipal District, January meeting this week.
Achill based Fianna Fáil councillor Paul McNamara had a notice of motion down for the meeting in an attempt to deal with a stretch of road in Achill. Sinn Féin councillor Rose Conway-Walsh expressed disbelief that the same reason for not changing the limit in the area mentioned by Cllr McNamara was given six years ago to her when it was requested to reduced the speed limit in Binghamstown.
Cllr McNamara’s notice of motion called for the reduction of the 80km per hour speed limit to 50km per hour for a 1km stretch of the R319 on either side of Bunnacurry National School. Cllr McNamara said there were in the region of 21 entrance points on that stretch of road, with on average three houses accessing the road from each entrance. He also reasoned that there was a national school, a naionra playschool, a FÁS office, and a number of industrial units on the stretch of road, making it very busy for vehicles turning on an off the road.
Padraig Walsh, senior engineer with Mayo County Council, responded to Cllr McNamara’s motion, saying the council had started a speed limit review of the county a number of years ago that was at an advanced stage and it did include the stretch of road raised by Cllr McNamara. But the review was put on hold because the Department of Transport had started its own national speed limit review and the council had to put its review on hold. He added that any changes would have to wait until that review had been carried out.
Cllr Rose Conway-Walsh responded saying: “I don’t think it’s one bit fine, because the very same answer was given six years ago here and I know it’s not the council’s fault. But the proposal being put forward by Cllr McNamara is the exact same as we had for Binghamstown and other places as well. The very same answer was given six years ago and it’s not good enough, whatever civil servants that are responsible for this in the Department they really need to move with this before there is a very serious accident, there was very nearly one in Binghamstown a few weeks ago. We’re trying to make changes, with our hands tied behind our backs. It is crazy to think a national review would still be going on after six years.”
Fine Gael councillor Gerry Coyle said: “Places like schools should be taken out of the national review and we should be able to bring in a bye-law here ourselves to deal with situations like this.” While Cllr McNamara concluded the debate by expressing his disappointment at the response, saying: “I just feel if there’s an accident there in the morning, it won’t be a problem reducing it and it won’t be a problem with every authority being down on the site within an hour, and that’s when it’ll be reduced. For the general public it’s very hard for me as a local representative to go back and say it’s gone to Dublin and it’s with civil servants. As far as they are concerned it’s a sign at each end of the area bringing it down to 50km.”