A source of funding to complete a major overhaul of the Currane Road from Mulranny to Achill Sound needs to be found as a priority, to improve safety on a key part of the Wild Atlantic Way, it was said this week.
The 12km stretch of road that loops around the Currane peninsula is one of the most scenic areas in the county, but coach tour operators are actively avoiding it, it was claimed by a councillor this week.
Another councillor said that a serious accident on it would bring the whole Wild Atlantic Way into disrepute.
Achill based Fianna Fáil Cllr Paul McNamara told the June meeting of the West Mayo Municipal District: "I had a number of calls since the bank holiday weekend about the Currane Road. It's becoming a huge problem down there.
"I had one of the tour guides on to me, giving out about the state of if it. We are putting the cart before the horse in some ways. We are promoting the Wild Atlantic Way and all the trafffic is coming all the way down along the N59 and it's being diverted straight off onto the L414, not even on the R319.
"It is one of the most scenic routes in the whole country, you can go right along and look out onto Clew By and see right over into Inishturk, Clare Island, Achill-Beg, you can see right along beside you for 12km. But I was at a meeting last Friday night and it was brought to my attention.
"There was a petition down in the 1990s where there were 2,000 names and it was sent into Mayo County Council to do something with the road, and all the years on it hasn't got any better.
"Is there any thing we can do or can we apply to a different body to get a right lump of money that will improve the local road? I know there was €26,000 allocated to do the local road in the years gone by, but it's not near enough to solve the problems on it. We are promoting it and encourging all the tourists to drive along it, but there isn't even a lay-by for the coaches to pull in along it."
Mulranny based Independent councillor Michael Holmes added: "Cllr McNamara is 100 per cent right. It has to be an item on our agenda until it gets done. Mayo County Council will never come up with the funding to do it, because they can't, it's a huge job. You would be talking of millions.
"It's bang on in the middle of the Wild Atlantic Way, and what is happening is that coach operators are advising their drivers to avoid it and go directly from Mulranny into Achill and the same coming out.
"It's terrible that one of the most scenic areas is being avoided. But the locals on a daily basis have to use that road. It's in a terrible state and we'll have to find somewhere to get funding from. We have to get our shoulders to the wheel on it. It has to come on this agenda until we see what we can do."
Sinn Féin councillor Rose Conway Walsh said: "There needs to be a national response to the Currane Road, because if something happens and there's a loss of life or serious injury or a major accident there, the whole of the Wild Atlantic Way and its reputation will be brought into disrepute. There is an onus there to do something before it's too late. The local authority won't have the money for it now, and won't in the future."
Senior engineer for Mayo County Council, Padraig Walsh, told the members: "On the Currane Road, we would be able to do some pavement overlay works on the worst section, and progressively over time keep the pavement in some semblance of reasonable shape. But what's needed there is widening and some realignment as well as pavement overlay. If you're talking the entire circuit, from Mulranny to where it comes out near Achill Sound, you're talking about a very significant project in terms of scale."
Cllr Holmes concluded: "I think the local authority, or us, have to look for it. This is a safety issue and a tourism issue. It's that funding we need to target, we understand the council can't come up with the funding for that. We have to source out where will we get the funding for it."