'Stream running across' M7
Emergency services praised for response to tragic collisions
Emergency service workers were praised at this week's meeting of Tipperary Co Council for their response to the two separate road accidents that left seven people dead last month.
A moment of silence was observed and the meeting was adjourned for five minutes as a mark of respect to the families of those who died within days of each other in Clonmel and Cashel.
With roads on the agenda, several councillors spoke during the meeting of accident-prone parts of the county and called for action to prevent serious collisions. Cllr Shane Lee mentioned the torrential rain that fell last weekend. He witnessed around 20 cars pulling up on the hard shoulder of the M7 between Junctions 22 (Roscrea) and 23 (Moneygall) due to drivers being afraid to proceed through the water pooling on the road.
“It was like a stream running across it,” Cllr Lee said of the rainfall on the motorway. While he accepted that climate change has resulted in more extreme weather events, he complained that there has been an ongoing problem with surface water on the M7 and he wanted Transport Infrastucture Ireland (TTI) to look at the section in question as a matter of urgency.
“To think that motorists can't use that road in the rain is totally unacceptable,” Cllr Lee said. He mentioned a similar problem of pockets of surface water holding on the N62 between Roscrea and Templemore.
Senior Roads Engineer Liam Brett said extreme weather events are becoming more and more common. Any road surface would struggle to cope with the heavy bursts of rain experienced last weekend. The council is availing of a number of a funding streams to deal with such situations, including climate adaption grants, OPW grants and drainage schemes.
Cathaoirleach Cllr Ger Darcy mentioned the persistent problem of flooding on the N65 near Carrigahorig and consequent damage caused to local roads when traffic is diverted off the national route.
Cllr Hughie McGrath raised the dangerous bends at Latteragh and was informed that the long-awaited realignment work is to commence next year.
SPEED LIMIT REVIEW
Cllr John Carroll called for the national review of speed limits to be brought forward. With increased traffic volume and increased speed, he said there are many poorly-aligned roads in Tipperary that need to have their speed limit brought down. This would held reduce deaths on our roads.
"Reductions in speed limits on local and regional roads should be significant if we are to reduce excessive speeding and save many lives on our roads," Cllr Carroll commented.
Mr Brett said the council is awaiting national guidance on speed limits. "Significant changes" could be expected, he said.
Cllr Carroll also inquired about traffic diversion procedures in the event of fatal road accidents. He was informed by acting Chief Fire Officer Eddie Ryan that the gardaí take the lead in such situations and work with the council in re-routing traffic.
In response to questions from Cllr Siobhán Ambrose, Mr Ryan said the council has a confidential counselling service in place for its firefighters following stressfull call-outs. Cllr Ambrose said some of those who responded to last month's fatal crash in Clonmel were also involved in the Cashel callout a few days later.
Several councillors joined in paying tribute to all of the emergency services personnel involved. Cllr Darcy noted that people had praised the responders for the efficiency and professionalism with which they went about their duties.
Meanwhile, Cllr Máirín McGrath was widely supported in her call for extra roads funding from the Department of Transport in next year's budget. Cllr Michael O'Meara said extra funding is required for emergency work on roads with a red classification on the council's priority list. Cllr O'Meara said there are around 20 such roads in his area in the Nenagh Municipal District and they are in a "disastrous state".
Cllr Darcy agreed and said that while the council is getting through good quality roads work in general, many of the red roads are worsening.
Mr Brett said the council has done well in terms of roads funding this year. He assured those present that every opportunity would be used to secure further income from the Department.
The council would be meeting with TII in November and each municipal district would be asked to prioritise three items for the agenda.