Dale Road design to be lodged in weeks

Dónal Nolan

Plans for the redesign of the Dale/Rathscannell Road - currently closed over safety fears - are to be lodged within a matter of weeks.

Kerry County Council is now in the final stages of the design of the new road as well as an environmental assessment of its impact, a meeting of the Listowel Municipal District of the Authority heard on Monday.

Pressure is now mounting on Minister for Transport Shane Ross to approve the funding for the road as early as January in a bid to restore North Kerry's regional network to its full capacity.

The Council took the unprecedented move to close the Dale/Rathscannell stretch of the regional R556 - between Abbeydorney and Ballyduff - to all but local traffic in July.

The closure was undertaken to protect road-users amid a background of numerous crashes on the raised causeway road Residents have been living in fear of cars careening into their property for years.

It also allowed Council engineers carry out a safety audit to inform the design. The closure impacted thousands of motorists in North Kerry who have been forced to divert to the west and east of the Rathscannel road in the interim.

"It is critical that the design is completed and lodged for planning as soon as possible to give us every chance of securing funding when the Local Improvement Funding is allocated in January," Fine Gael County Councillor Aoife Thornton told The Kerryman this week.

Cllr Thornton was in touch with Minister of State at the Department of Transport Brendan Griffin on the issue as recently as Monday in a bid to secure a meeting with Minister Ross and hammer home the vital need for immediate funding.

"I'm seeking another meeting with Minister Ross to appraise him of the progress with the design and to highlight the critical need for funding in January now. It is not standard practice to close any road but especially a regional one that is so busy. It was moved to a one-way to allow a safety audit, but the Council decided to close it when it became clear engineers would have to undertake a lengthy design," Cllr Thornton added.

Many motorists are flouting the closure meanwhile, driving around council bollards and signs rather than diverting, particularly at weekends.