Farmer forced to drive cattle down ‘valley of death’ road to get underpass
The serious difficulties that exist on the N24 between Mooncoin and Carrick-on-Suir dubbed the ‘valley of death' by a local priest were highlighted in the Dail this week.
When questioning the Minister for Transport this week, Fianna Fail TD, John McGuinness said it was only when a local farmer, Donal Norris, drove his cattle down this road that the NRA was forced to provide a safe underpass.
“He should not have had to encounter such difficulties as he sought to achieve his rights.
“It was absolutely shocking that he was treated in such a way by a State agency,” he said.
At a meeting in Piltown community centre on Monday night which was attended by 500 local people from the surrounding areas local priest, Fr. Moore referred to the roadway in question as the "valley of death".
Deputy McGuinness said there were ten white crosses behind the backs of those who addressed the packed audience at the meeting from the main table.
He said when this road was being designed and constructed between 1995 and 2002, when it opened, there were constant difficulties with the National Roads Authority, NRA, as it was at the time, and the engineer on the project.
“Those who raised matters with regard to the road, including the local radio station, were often challenged legally so that they would stop doing so.
“This happened to me as a member of the local council at the time.
“To this day, nobody has officially opened the road.
“Everyone in this House knows that when money is spent on a road, some politician will cut the tape. I have nothing against that.
“Even though this road was funded through the NRA, it is the road that nobody wanted,” McGuinness said this week.
He highlighted that everyone has been demanding such an overpass since the road was originally designed.
“But those responsible have still not given in and provided it, despite many deaths and numerous accidents.
“Most of the accidents on this stretch of road are recorded by the local gardaí, but others are not even reported.
“This notorious piece of road, where two roads go into one, is the worst piece of engineering one will ever see,” he said.
A former minister has described the cost of installing underpasses to improve road safety “a crisis situation”.
Ned O’Keeffe told the ICMSA AGM at Limerick that farmers face costs of up to €60,000 for an underpass because of the “restrictions and bureaucracy”.
He was responding to a motion from ICMSA executives in Carlow and Macroom that underpasses should be grant aided under TAMS and that the planning system should promote rather than hinder their use in the interest of farm and road safety.
Mr O’Keeffe described the situation as “ludicrous” where farmers faced “almost insurmountable difficulties” with the NRA and the local authorities, despite the improvement it would achieve for the safety of both road users, the farmer and animal safety.
Macroom ICMSA’s Tim O’Callaghan called for farmers to be allowed to carry out the work or engage a contractor “which will reduce the local authority costings by more than 50pc”.
“In my area the local authority wanted €30,000 for a small underpass where a dairy farmer has three-quarters of his land at the other side of a country road. The cost of the pre-cast underpass needed was €11,000 plus a few loads of filling and a couple of loads of concrete,” he said.
“It is a nightmare for any farmer having to bring cows across the public road four times a day and there have been several accidents as a result. I know of several cases where farmers lost five to seven cows — and risked their own lives — where drivers collided with them. Farmers are constantly having to choose their times for crossing — it is no way to have to farm — and a lot could be resolved if there was a different approach by the local authorities and farmers were allowed to carry out the work to the required specifications,” he stressed.
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