Dew drops NRA in it with dodgy motorway signs
Published 29/09/2010 | 05:00
DRIVERS are unable to read giant new motorway signs at night because of the dewy Irish climate.
The National Roads Authority (NRA) yesterday admitted the problem, which is being blamed on a build up of dew on the thousands of new blue and white signs on the country's newest roads.
This is stopping the light from car headlights reflecting back to approaching motorists.
As a result, drivers are frequently unable to read the writing on the expensive signs, which appears as "grey and hazy".
Top engineers with the NRA are now carrying out experiments to see if special coatings can be applied to thousands of signs along the 750km-long network of motorways and dual-carriageways.
The dew problem emerged yesterday as the M7 Nenagh to Limerick motorway, part of which sank into a bog during construction, was officially opened by Transport Minister Noel Dempsey.
The 38km stretch of road, which cost €424m, will result in time savings for the 20,000 vehicles travelling between Limerick and Nenagh every day and bypass several accident blackspots.
Mr Dempsey said that experts were working on the sign problem to see if a solution could be found.
"This is a difficulty that is not just specific to Ireland," the minister added.
NRA chief executive Fred Barry blamed the climate for the problem, but vowed that they would keep working to find a solution.
According to NRA spokesman Sean O'Neill, the problem is caused by a build up of dew on signs when they get very cold at night-time.
"We have the highest standard of reflectivity on the signs in Europe.
"But the primary issue is not the reflectivity, it is the dew," said Mr O'Neill.
Mr O'Neill added that other countries experienced similar problems in certain weather conditions and denied suggestions that there was no such problem along UK motorways.
"This is also an issue in other places, such as Frankfurt," he added.
The construction of the 38km road from Annacotty to Nenagh in Co Tipperary was contracted to Bothar Hibernian.
It was due for completion in June 2009 but there were serious difficulties at Anaholty bog, where the almost-completed road collapsed into the bog in December last year.
The contractors built a concrete and steel bridge -- known as a load transfer platform -- to provide a stable base, so that the road could finally open.
The final section of the M7 from Castletown in Co Laois to Nenagh, will open later this year, which will complete the big five inter-urban motorways connecting Dublin with Limerick, Cork, Galway, Waterford, and the Border.