Thursday 16 July 2009

Slane HGV ban could mean problems for other road users, committee told

AN ORDER to ban HGVs going through an accident blackspot near the village of Slane will be difficult to implement, the Meath county manager has admitted.

Meath councillors voted earlier this year to ban HGVs going through Slane because of the dangerous and steep incline from the bridge on the N2 into the village. A total of 22 people have died on the stretch in the last 30 years.

County manager Tom Dowling told the Oireachtas Committee on Transport yesterday that a ban might lead to problems elsewhere, with HGVs using roads not built to carry them. He told committee members and local residents that a ban was “not a black and white issue”, and that the only real solution was a village bypass, which is currently in the planning stages.

He said the council was “deeply concerned” a HGV ban would create problems for residents elsewhere. “Yes, we can do it. Yes, the law allows us to do it, but we have just got to find a way,” he said.

Fine Gael TD Fergus O’Dowd suggested to Mr Dowling that he had to implement the ban. “You don’t have a choice,” he said.

Meath East TD Thomas Byrne (FF) suggested to Mr Dowling he could bring in the ban with a “stroke of your biro”, and that he, an elected representative, would not allow objections from other residents to a Slane HGV ban.

Fellow Meath East TD Shane McEntee (FG) said the stretch of road was the “worst accident blackspot in Europe”. He told officials from the National Roads Authority (NRA) and Mr Dowling they had a responsibility to provide a safe road.

NRA chief executive Fred Barry said it was working closely with Meath County Council on drawing up plans for a bypass, but such a bypass was proving to be challenging because of the special cultural heritage of the area.

Slane residents spokesman John Ryle said the response of the authorities had been very disappointing. “Either they know how serious the situation is and they really don’t care, in which case they are in gross neglect of their responsibilities, or they do not, in fact, understand the extreme urgency of the situation,” he said.

Irish Times

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