Owing to the Gardai reservations of the choice of venue, i.e. the Lamb junction, the the planned visit of Minister for Transport, Shane Ross will go ahead this afternoon at 2pm but note, change of venue - the Minister will arrive at Wicklow County Council offices in Blessington and not at the Lamb.
WCC offices are located just down from Silver Spirit, Aldi etc on the back road to Dunnes/Naas Road access
Since confirmation of the visit to the local N81 Action Group on Thursday evening last, local Garaí expressed serious reservations of the choice of venue, a known accident blackspot with a 100km ph speed limit.
Whilst the Minister informed Wicklow TDs of the visit on July 25, neither the relative Municipal Districts nor the local N81 Committee were informed until Thursday evening, August 9. Cllr Gerry O'Neill welcomed the change of venue, saying it made common sense not to host the 'visit' on the side of a notoriously dangerous blackspot.
Yesterday, KildareNow contacted the Minister’s office and several Wickow TDs and interested parties. The Minister’s office confirmed the visit albeit claimed they were waiting on venue confirmation from Deputy Brady (SF).Only at 6pm yesterday did the N81 Committee receive official notification of the time, date and venue.
“We extended an invitation to the Minister at a meeting in June and he agreed to come down to the area but since then, we had no official notice or response to a follow up enquiry from the committee. Even Baltinglass Municipal District had received no invitation as of yesterday afternoon" said Cllr Gerry O'Neill, Chair N81 Action Group.
“At least we have confirmation now but we are also shocked at the choice of the venue, the Lamb junction? I don't believe the Garda will be too happy that a Minister has arranged a public meeting on a deadly stretch of the N81 at 2pm on a Monday afternoon! It’s a major junction and despite the road being widened and re-aligned over the years, it remains an accident blackspot”.
Earlier this year, the TII announced the deferment of the N81 upgrade, stating it was deferred until 2027. The deferment infuriated local commuters and residents living along the Tallaght to Baltinglass commuter belt, a route which weaves in and out of four counties, Dublin, Kildare, Wicklow and Carlow. Indeed, the N81 continues to Tullow, Co Carlow. The route is further under the jurisdiction of three Municipal Districts: South Dublin, Naas MD and Baltinglass MD.
At a public meeting in April, residents along the N81 stated their exasperation of the deferment, many of whom claims it now takes 2-2.5 hours to make what used to be a one hour plus commute.
Residents from further along the N81, from Hollywood, Donard, Dunlavin, Eadestown and Ballymore Eustace, along with Manor Kilbride, Brittas and Crooksling vented their fury with one man claiming: “I counted almost 60 cars passed me on the main road one morning before I managed to get out of a side road”.
Others such as Andy Hamilton (above) stated the farms he and his son Ben run, are left in ‘limbo land’. “With 300 metres marked for the N81 upgrade preferred route, we are in limbo here; we can’t borrow or expand, and we can’t sell. It’s an intolerable situation”.
Cllr O’Neill, stated the feasibility study for the N81 commenced in 2008, “and the preferred route was agreed, and here we are, 8 years later, with nothing!”
TDs and councillors at the public meeting stated the upgrade for the N81 remained a stumbling block for future development and economic growth, impacting on all communities and villages along the N81.
The TII responded also yesterday to the committee’s letter in June requesting a breakdown of fatalities, head on collisions and motor accidents. Amongst the Safety Report, the TII stated:
“The study area is the N81 from the end of the dual carriageway section in Tallaght to just south of the R756 junction in Hollywood. This section of the N81 is 28kms in length (22.4km rural 2-lane, 5.6 km urban). The collision history considered spans the period from January 2014 to December 2017. Traffic volumes were estimated using TMU and NTpM (2016) data sources.
“Typical traffic volumes range from 5,200 AADT (near junction with R756, Hollywood) to 27,350 AADT (end of Tallaght bypass). However, volumes quickly fall back after leaving the dual carriageway section. For example, just west of the junction with old N82, the AADT is estimated to be 11,350.
“The collision rate for the rural 2-lane section of this route (Network Safety Analysis, 2015-2017) was calculated as 11.937 per 100 million km of travel. This is above the national average for all rural 2-lane roads of 7.98 per million km of travel. It is also above the national average for rural 2-lane secondary roads, 9.22 million km of travel (see Table 1)”.
Secretary of the N81 Committee, Carmel Cashin stated it was disgraceful to think a route which the TII acknowledge as ‘having above the national average” for collision rates, remains on the long finger and deferred until 2027.
Deputy James Lawless will raise PQs on the N81 deferment on the resumption of the Dáil next month.
Minster Ross will be at the Lamb junction on Monday next, August 13 at 2pm. Cllr O’Neill is encouraging commuters, residents and business people living along the N81 to join the group and express their angst at the deferment.
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