A father has hailed new pedestrian crossing facilities at a busy crossing point on the Clonmel Inner Relief Road where his teenage daughter was knocked down and injured two years ago, to be a success.
Ned Spillane from Highfield Grove, Clonmel said traffic has slowed down considerably as it passes the Heywood Road junction since the pedestrian safety measures were put in place by the County Council last summer.
Hundreds of residents living in three housing estates on the Clonmel Rugby Club side of Inner Relief Road cross it at this point every day to get to the Heywood Road. Many of them are children walking and cycling to school.
The National Roads Authority designed safety measures installed there include the construction of a central refuge in the middle of the Inner Relief Road carriageway where pedestrians can stand while walking across.
Another two central islands have been built on the road on either side of the junction to slow down approaching traffic.
The carriageway was also significantly narrowed at the junction with the construction of a pedestrian footpath and the Inner Relief Road cycle way, work on which is still underway.
Public lighting around the junction has also been made much brighter so that pedestrians and cyclists are more visible to passing motorists and vice versa.
Mr Spillane said before the pedestrian crossing facilities were constructed, people walking to and from the estates at far side of the bypass often had to wait between 10 and 15 minutes to cross the road because of the traffic. But that no longer happens.
“My heart used to go out to the kids going to school every morning in all weather conditions and no one would stop for them,” he said.
His daughter, Jennifer, was 15 years-old when she was knocked down as she crossed the road at this point at 5.45pm one evening in November, 2011. She luckily survived but suffered a severely broken arm and required 40 stitches to her head.
Mr Spillane described his daughter as the luckiest girl alive.
When the road was built, a roundabout and walkover bridge for pedestrians was meant to be built at the Heywood Road junction but they were never provided.
Mr Spillane campaigned for nearly ten years for a pedestrian crossing at this location and he told the authorities he feared nothing would be done until someone was killed.
After his daughter’s accident, he pledged to take legal action against the road authorities if another major accident took place at the spot. There have been about 34 accidents at the junction over the years.
Mr Spillane paid tribute to Fianna Fail Cllr Siobhan Ambrose for all the lobbying work she did to secure the pedestrian crossing facilities. He said he approached all the local TDs and councillors but she was the only one who did anything.
“I really appreciate what she did. She did a brilliant job. We were looking for this for years and when she got interested she put down her head and got to work,” he said.
Meanwhile, Cllr. Ambrose has welcomed the completion of the pedestrian crossing facilities where the Heywood Road meets the bypass and expressed the hope it would prevent any further pedestrian accidents in the area as well as making it easier for local residents to cross the bypass safely.
But she believes the pedestrian crossing facilities are only half the solution to both the safety and traffic problems in this area.
“The other half is the installation of a roundabout at this junction,” she said. “I have raised this issue at several meetings of Clonmel Borough Council but to date we have received no specific funding from the Department to carry out these works.
“It is estimated that the installation of a roundabout could cost in the region of one million euro. Personally, I feel it is essential
we keep pushing the Department for the relevant funding for this roundabout.
“This is why I have again tabled a motion for the February meeting of Clonmel Borough Council requesting that, in conjunction with the County Council, we apply again to the Department seeking funding during 2013 for this project,” she added.