Over the past 35 years, 14 people have lost their lives on a stretch of road outside Loughrea in Co. Galway and locals in the area say they have had enough.
Residents have become so infuriated by what they say are dangerous road conditions they launched a road safety campaign and have spent the last couple of years endeavouring to have a local junction – Kilmeen Cross – realigned and fitted with appropriate lighting infrastructure.
Kilmeen Cross Action Group was established two and a half years ago to address the difficulties motorists and locals alike face every day at the junction. Members of the community say now that their biggest fear is that another loved one will be lost to the local roads’ network.
Meanwhile, the affected route runs along the N65 at Kilmeen Cross going out onto the Portumna Road. The local bog road also runs onto the junction and locals say it too is in “very, very bad condition”.
Jackie Flannery is the chairperson of the Kilmeen Cross Action Group and her father died in 2016 following an accident close to the junction.
She says that she established the group because she wants to ensure that no other family has to go through what she has gone through – on a daily basis – over the past few years.
It is very painful and you do not want to see anyone having to bear that.
She continued: “But, unfortunately, it has happened to me and that cross is an accident waiting to happen.
“If it’s a foggy, dark night – it doesn’t matter how much reflective material is placed on the junction – there is going to be an accident. It needs to be lit up.”
Flannery went on to say that the group has worked closely with local area representatives and with Galway County Council over the last two and a half years; they have secured over €1 million in funding to have necessary works carried out but, she adds, “Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) won’t play ball with us”.
TII tells us that they base their work on the criteria of accidents/deaths on a route over the previous five-year period but the way we look at it is a death is a death in any year.
She added: “People in the community have lost members of their family at the junction, on the bog road and on both the Loughrea side of the route and on the Ballinasloe side.
“A life is a life on the road – it doesn’t matter how many years; this is what we are basically saying to TII – you cannot feed information into a computer and say ‘well, they hadn’t enough numbers for x, y and z’ and therefore do not warrant putting lights in the place.”
Better late than never
The chairperson of the Kilmeen Cross Action Group went on to point out that motorists travelling along the nearby N62 will encounter three very similar junctions to Kilmeen Cross, which Flanney adds, “are of a similar proportion to Kilmeen Cross”.
Those junctions are of a similar proportion and they are lit up like a Christmas Tree.
She continued: “We are challenging TII on that – if it can be done a few miles down the road on the N62 then it can be done on the N65.”
Recently, the group placed 14 white crosses at Kilmeen Cross in an effort to highlight the loss the local community has suffered because of safety issues on the local roads’ network.
Flannery says that, while it was a difficult thing for everyone to do, the move did get the attention that the community needed to highlight to the powers that be the dangers they – and other road users – face every day on the local route.
It got people’s attention; it got massive support.
She explained further: “We have given Galway County Council two different design sketches for the cross and it seems to be that a roundabout might just be the most suitable option at this point in time.
“Local landowners have also indicated that they are quite willing to come on board if extra land is needed. The community is working together and has everything sorted on this – we just need the work done…there is plenty to be done and we just want the powers that be to get on with it.”