Thursday 18 January 2018

Roadworks gridlock 'could put lives at sea in danger'

JIM CUSACK

Lives at sea could be in danger by roadworks that have caused gridlock alongside the Dun Laoghaire Lifeboat, the busiest rescue station in the country, which last year rescued 76 people, emergency service sources said.

The gridlock is being caused by the closure of the main road south of Dun Laoghaire for two months for work on gas and water pipes. The closure of Summerhill Road, which leads into the town centre, has forced traffic on to the coast road, causing severe tailbacks along Queen's Road where the lifeboat station is situated.

And local sources said the gridlock was set to be worsened as Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council begins work this week on a major project to build a platform over the railway line alongside the same stretch of road.

On Friday morning, there was a half-hour delay in approaching the harbour from the southern side on the coastal road.

And in the afternoon, more roadworks beside Dun Laoghaire DART station were causing large tailbacks from the northern approach to the harbour.

Rescue service sources yesterday said that they fear lives will be lost if the lifeboat is delayed during the coming months.

"The crew resuscitated a man who had only minutes recently. If there had been a delay of only a few minutes, he would have died. The lifeboat deals with life-and-death situations all year but these months are the busiest. It's insane that this is happening now."

Twenty-seven volunteer crew members of the RNLI's Anna Livia lifeboat live in the hinterland of the town and it is generally expected that the boat is launched within 12 minutes of being alerted on their pagers, the station's operation manager, Stephen Wynne, said.

He said: "July and August are our busiest period. It is a nuisance and it is something which we will have to live with unless there is some radical change or some traffic management system put in place.

"We have had 37 call-outs so far this year and we usually have between 60 and 70 call-outs each year. Our crew all have jobs and we don't want to have to ask them to come and sit in the station on days when we expect calls."

Last weekend, the lifeboat was called out to help rescue a crew member of one of the ocean racing yachts that called into Dun Laoghaire as part of the Route des Prince race around Europe.

The crewman suffered a broken pelvis when the yacht overturned in gusty winds. The RNLI crew also resuscitated a swimmer who got into difficulties the same day.

A spokeswoman for Dun Laoghaire Council said: Dun Laoghaire Rathdown Co Council went through the required statutory process for the Summerhill Road closure and in the case of an emergency, routes can be cleared by An Garda Siochana.

"Due to lower traffic volumes and more favourable weather conditions for road surfacing works during the summer months, road restoration works are programmed at this time to minimise as far as possible traffic disruption and delay," said the council.

Irish Independent

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