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Kerry councillors vote for Fossa road project following a heated debate

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Fossa Road Project to progress after councillors approve it.

Fossa Road Project to progress after councillors approve it.

Fossa Road Project to progress after councillors approve it.

kerryman

A major road-safety project in Fossa – including traffic calming measures and enhanced pedestrian and cycling facilities along the N72 – will now move forward to funding and construction after Killarney Councillors voted to approve the project this week.

The long-awaited and much-debated road project came before councillors on Wednesday morning and, though local councillors expressed some concerns about elements of the plan, they voted in favour of the development.

Despite suggestions that they would postpone the vote to bring concerns to Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII), Councillors were informed their suggested changes would not be accommodated. 

The project includes a raised two-way shared pedestrian and cycling route on the south side of the N72 and on the north side of the N72, with further one-way pedestrian and cycling facilities also on the route. A reduction of the main carriageway is also part of the project, as is a realignment of the Gap of Dunloe junction. 

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A controlled pedestrian crossing at Fossa National School is also part of the works and one of the key elements that councillors had called for to improve road safety at the school.

Concerns were raised by councillors about the type of pedestrian crossing chosen, and councillors have sought for this to be changed from a zebra controlled crossing to a push-button crossing. 

Much of the concerns raised were in relation to the capabilities of agricultural machinery to make the turn at the Gap Cross given the new alignments of the junction.

Councillors sought a left slip-lane from the Killarney side and a right lane from the Killorglin side at the junction. Councillors claim the junction is not safe for large machinery and could lead to an accident or halt traffic flow. This was also raised in some of the 28 submissions to the project during the public-consultation process. 

Council engineers said that the planned works are in line with TII requirements and in accordance with national guidelines and, thus cannot be altered. 

However, Cllr Marie Moloney (Labour) summed up the sentiments of many when she said Councillors should not be put in a position to vote for something that they are not happy with just because TII might not fund it. She, along with other councillors, argued that the junction is not appropriate. 

Senior Engineer John Ahern said that drivers of agricultural machinery who could not make the turn should not be driving the machinery – a remark that led to criticism from councillors, who said their concerns and the concerns of those driving machinery are valid, and the junction needs to be widened or lanes provided. 

Senior Engineer Padraic Teahan said that, despite councillors’ concerns, the junction has been designed in accordance with guidelines and takes into account all factors, with no room for adjustments or tweaking.

He said that all junctions are being designed in the same manner across the country as junction improvements are made in such projects. 

Senior Executive John Breen said that councillors cannot “redesign national guidelines”. 

The public submissions also included flooding concerns as the main road and local developments along the proposed works have been affected by flooding on an almost annual basis, but as the OPW has not listed the area as a flood-risk area, these concerns were not considered. An extension of the project was also raised. 

Cllr Niall Kelleher (Fianna Fáil) put forward a suggestion to allow councillors’ concerns be put to TII, though Cllr Brendan Cronin said they would not be thanked by the school for jeopardising the project. Cllr Kelleher said it would be the case that funding for the project would not be made until the end of the year. 

Mr Teahan said there was no point going back to TII. 

Cllr Maura Healy-Rae said she would withdraw the proposal regarding the Gap junction given that TII won’t listen to their concerns. She said they could not jeopardise the project in any way and would move to adopt the project. 

Mayor Cllr Niall Kelleher sought changes to white line marking on the plans but was told he could not do so. 

A heated row broke out towards the end of the meeting over what motion or proposal would be voted upon – with or without various amendments as discussed with councillors. Ultimately, councillors voted in favour of the project with two amendments – one in relation to the provision of a footpath and the other to change the type of pedestrian crossing.


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