West Clare is currently without a designated road technician leading to concern amongst elected representatives that several projects could subsequently “be left on the long finger”.
One such example that councillors felt would be affected was in Inagh. Cllr Bill Chambers (FF) requested Clare County Council put in place a pedestrian crossing on the N85 from The Good House to the adjacent car park.
Engagements with Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) regarding a crossing at Inagh village have taken place, acting senior executive engineer within the West Clare MD, Morgan Lahiffe confirmed at a recent meeting. “They seek pedestrian counts which if failing within certain parameters would render the proposal viable. I believe that the numbers needed to make the proposal viable will not be evident in Inagh.
“That said, if Clare County Council were to fund the project from another stream i.e. CLÁR or similar, the same justification would not be necessary. We will carry out the survey in high tourist season 2020 and liaise subsequently with TII in relation to a funding stream for the work. However, very limited numbers of pedestrian crossings have been funded in the recent past,” Lahiffe warned. He flagged that the design would be subject to passing the road safety audit process as it is on a national road.
Further detail on the criteria was sought by Cllr Chambers who was then told by Lahiffe that the national road stipulations are “quite strict. The survey will be done during the tourist season, it may not hit the numbers we want. It is more likely to get funding for something on the outskirts of Dublin with heavy usage”.
Inagh native, Cllr Roisin Garvey (GP) queried if it was previously agreed that the better location for the crossing was opposite The Rambler’s Rest. “The design hasn’t been finalised. With any location we take all that into account. I don’t have an exact location, we will go for the best location if funding becomes available,” Lahiffe said. A “ballpark cost” was requested by Cllr Joe Garrihy (FG). “It depends on a number of things. We could have change from €15,000 or €20,000,” the senior engineer answered.
As he seconded the motion, Cllr Ian Lynch (IND) commented “A crossing was approved for funding in Kilrush but couldn’t get a layout. Have technicians been removed from the West Clare Municipal District? If roads are losing their technician, all this could be left on the long finger”.
John O’Malley, acting senior executive engineer responded, “Our technician has gone into the housing department and he was doing a lot of good projects. I have spoken to the Head of HR and we’re getting positive feedback about him being replaced. We are now working with the Ennis Design Team at the moment which isn’t ideal”.
“We can’t afford to lose a technician,” Cllr Lynch stressed. “The senior engineer in the roads department has made a very strong case to HR on that, he is confident we would have progress,” meetings administrator John Corry stated. Director of Service, Leonard Cleary advised the meeting that the post had been advertised but noted “the private sector is attracting a lot of technicians”.