Warning signs 'removed at crash site'
WARNING signs were inexplicably removed from an unfinished road on which a young woman lost control of her car and was killed.
Retired civil engineer Peter Faherty told an inquest into the death of Ashling Gallagher (22), of Askill, Achill, Co Mayo, that he was part of a consultancy team from the UK that carried out a report on behalf of the Health and Safety Authority following the tragedy on the N59 Mulranny to Newport road in December 2004.
Ms Gallagher died instantly when her VW Caddy van went out of control, veered across a continuous white line and collided with a concrete lorry at Murrivaugh, near Mulranny.
Several witnesses had earlier given evidence that Ms Gallagher had not been speeding and her van was roadworthy.
The witnesses all confirmed that they believed the road construction was finished and was a permanent structure as it was lined and there were no warning signs in place.
Mr Faherty said the surface of the road was a dense bitumen macadam (DBM) binder course -- an intermediate layer used for structural purposes -- and traffic should not be allowed pass over it permanently.
Traffic could only be allowed on occasion, provided the situation was controlled and vehicles were kept under 30mph, he said.
Mr Faherty added: "At some stage, signs were taken down and we were never able to find out why or when. To any normal motorists driving it, this was a normal finished road -- it looked like a new road."
His colleague at the UK highway and transport consultancy firm Atkins, Dr John Bullas, confirmed that the road should not have been opened to traffic.
He said the unfinished surface would not have provided the high-speed skid resistance necessary.
Counsel for Mayo Co Council, Aonghus O Brolchain, told the jury that directions from the NRA stated that the road had to be covered (finished) as soon as practicable and that that was what was being done.
Dr Bullas agreed with counsel for the NRA, Peter Shanley, that it was inappropriate to apply a finished course during winter months.
The inquest heard that Mayo County Council did not accept that the surface in place on the day of the tragic accident was unsuitable for traffic travelling at the national speed limit.
The inquest continues.