Wednesday 16 May 2007

Locals risk lives crossing road over poor planning

BROKEN promises and years of poor planning are foremost in the minds of voters in rural north Cork.

At Rathduff every morning, the school run has become the most stressful job of the day.

The village is cut in half by the main Cork to Mallow Road where the speed signs require cars to slow to 60kmph but drivers rarely oblige.

Parents have devised tactics to cross between the cars to drop their children to the secondary school buses.

Some do not feel comfortable driving across the stream of traffic and instead watch their children cross by foot instead.

Pat Moynihan owns a shop at the junction and watches cars queuing to cross the main road.

“From 7am until after nine, there are cars just flying along the main road and you see the line of cars here waiting to get across. It is crazy, there are more houses planned on the other side of the road, but I don’t know how they are going to cross as well,” he said.

Those queuing up at Rathduff live along the borders of the Cork North Central, Cork East and Cork North West constituencies.

The village was promised €250,000 for a roundabout at the junction and detailed designs were distributed.

But after hopes rose they were dashed by the recent intervention of the National Roads Authority. It has decided to prioritise planning for a motorway between Limerick and Cork and to shelve plans for improvements to the junction.

Local people have been told the original construction grant will now be spent on a feasibility study for what was already planned. They were told it was not a political decision but this argument is not winning supporters ahead of General Election.

Mary O’Keefe-Jones prefers to drive the long route to Blarney rather than run the gauntlet of the N20.

She works in the Rathduff before-and-after school service, used mainly by parents commuting to Cork city during the day.

Outside the school, the inadequate rural road network is in evidence again. A lack of parking spaces along the single-lane road means buses and cars are fighting for spots when they converge to drop children off.

Ms O’Keefe-Jones’s children are among those who have to leave school 10 minutes early every evening so their buses can pull away before the parents arrive.

The 170 new houses overlooking the school promise more problems with inadequate water, sewerage and roads remaining untouched despite the investment in housing.

‘The cars just fly past’

RATHDUFF woman Liz O’Sullivan rises well in advance of the 8am school bus which collects two of her children on the main Mallow to Cork Road.

She said she takes her life in her hands every morning, darting between gaps in the rush-hour traffic which streams through the middle of the village.

“There is nothing there to help us get out and the cars just fly past.”

At 9am at Rathduff National School, parents of 165 children and two buses converge on 15 parking spaces. Sitting on a single-lane country road, the drop-off point is chaotic with cars stopping, manoeuvring on a sixpence.

Ms O’Sullivan is among those campaigning for better infrastructure for years and watched in frustration as more than 170 houses were built overlooking the school without any investment to ease congestion.

Ms O’Sullivan says she was once told nothing will be done because there have not been “enough fatalities” and is worried what it will take before the network is improved.

Irish Examiner

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