Crash victim's family calls for roundabout at blackspot
Published 07/04/2010 | 05:00
A CORONER last night called for "urgent" action to change the road layout at an accident blackspot which has claimed three lives in recent years.
Dr Kieran Geraghty made the plea after hearing how a mother-of-two died from multiple injuries at the notorious junction.
Gayle Grehan (47) died after her Renault Scenic failed to stop at a junction and collided with a BMW on July 20 last year.
There have been at least 57 recorded road traffic incidents at the junction in Ward Cross, north Co Dublin, since 2003.
A jury at the inquest into the mother-of-two's death yesterday called for the construction of a roundabout at the junction "as a matter of urgency".
Dr Geraghty said it was a "very urgent matter" and said he would write a "strong letter" to the local authority Fingal County Council stressing the recommendation of the jury.
"There is lots of evidence this is a very dangerous spot with numerous accidents and several fatalities. A roundabout might improve the situation," said the coroner.
He pointed out that he had already held one previous inquest into a death at the same spot, and that someone else has died there since.
Her two sisters Paula Byrne and Linda Barker, and her brother in law Patrick Grehan, also called for the roundabout to be constructed as a matter of urgency.
"It's too late for Gayle, but we don't want other lives lost or other families to suffer like we have because of this dangerous junction. It's an issue which needs to be addressed urgently," said Mrs Barker. "Planning permission has been available for a roundabout there for 15 years and they put in traffic calming measures, which didn't work.
"Twenty-two people have died at that particular spot. The local people have been campaigning for years and are getting nowhere."
The crash happened when Mrs Grehan, mother of Luke (15) and Amy (9), was on the way to Carlow with her husband Philip Grehan, who was seriously injured in the incident.
Mr Grehan said he was happy with the jury's recommendation and described his wife as a "great" and "wonderful" person.
"She was a great mother, wife, sister, aunt and daughter," he said.
"She was bubbly. She found it hard to be in bad humour. Her death is a major loss."
Richard Bennett, solicitor for the Grehan family, told the inquest that planning permission for a roundabout and funding has been available for some time.
The Grehan family has been in contact with Fingal County Council on the matter, but the process to acquire the lands hasn't started.
Dublin County Coroner's Court heard that the Renault Scenic driven by Mrs Grehan, which was travelling on the R121, did not stop on the stop line at the junction with the R135 at Ward Cross.
The car collided with a BMW, driven by Christopher Brady, who was travelling on the R135 with his son at the time.
Both Mr Brady and his son were uninjured.
The inquest heard there are signs approaching the junction including stop signs and an advanced warning sign, as well as rumble strips.
But Garda Edward Davin said that the junction is an "old style straight-through cross-over junction".
He said that it would not be constructed the same way "in this day and age".
The coroner added: "There are lots of signs, but people are not looking at the signs.
"They are looking at the road ahead. . . now they would stagger the junction."
The inquest heard there have been 54 recorded incidents at the junction between 2003 and July 28, 2009.
The jury recorded a verdict of accidental death and also called for further signs to be introduced at the junction.
A spokeswoman for Fingal County Council said there are plans for a substantial upgrade and major road re-alignment work at Ward Cross and that the local authority is proceeding with a detailed design and tender for these works .
Fingal County Council is progressing this scheme as a priority project, she said.
The scheme received the necessary statutory approval from elected members in 2009, she said.
It is not proposed to initiate a compulsory purchase order process for the land required for this re-alignment, as landowners have indicated their co-operation.
At present, the roads at this junction are signposted, and there are advance rumble strips and warning signs in each direction.
Fingal County Council has carried out advance works as part of this scheme last autumn, and it removed a significant portion of a ditch, cleared hedging and vegetation and improved sight lines in the area she said.