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Road Safety

Potholes, loose chippings, floods: Welcome to Ireland’s rural roads

One council engineer admits that limited funding means “we are stretched beyond breaking point to carry out even basic repairs”.

TWO WEEKS AGO, featured a photograph of a road travelled by one of our readers to work everyday.

It was referred to locally as ‘The road to Baghdad’, potholed and “nearly impassable”. The road was part of the R164, a regional route (a step up from those routes designated as ‘local roads’) that runs between Moynalty, Co Meath and Kingscourt, Co Cavan.

After published the photograph, several national newspapers followed up on the story, publishing their own pictures of the two-mile stretch “that looks like a minefield”. The weekend after its publication here, the same reader reported that Meath County Council had arrived out to dig up and fix the road on a Saturday. “They never work Saturdays,” he said.

While that reader’s commute to work may now be on the road to repair (sorry), he said he hoped the initial photograph would help start a debate on the state of roads around the country.

It did. Here are some of the photographs you submitted to us:

  • This is the R34096 outside the home of John Smith in Co Meath. This is the condition of the road for around half a kilometre – the road links the R163 and the L3409.

John wrote to Meath County Council asking if there were any plans to have the road repaired, saying that “simply filling these holes will no longer be sufficient as there is a long length that will need to be completely resurfaced to avoid personal injury/mechanical damage to vehicles”.

He received this response from the executive engineer overseeing the area where the road is located:

Dear Mr Smith,
I would like to acknowledge receipt of your email dated 21/01/2013.

Firstly let me say I am in agreement with your appraisal of the road’s physical condition and that the road would benefit from a resurfacing project.

This road like many others in the Kells Electoral area ideally requires a reconstruction. However, regrettably there is a considerable shortfall in the necessary funding  to carry out these type of works. Therefore, until such funding becomes available to reconstruct these roads, we have no alternative but to include the road in a list for rudimentary patch repairs. And as you’ve implied these repairs will have a limited longevity as the road requires resurfacing not patching.

Furthermore, to exacerbate the problem we are stretched beyond breaking point to carry out even basic repairs. With the limited resources available we cannot repair all the roads at this time and we have had to make the difficult decision to prioritise works on the more heavily trafficked roads (ie, where the risks are greater). Therefore while your road has been added to the list for repairs, there will be a significant wait time before we get to these lower class of roads.

Regretfully we can be of no more assistance at this time.

This photograph is of Daithe McCartney‘s local road on the Monaghan/Louth border. He says: “It’s practically impassable by car and has about the same amount of tar in it as a cigarette.”

  • This next photograph shows a road through Clykeel North just outside the village of Rathcormac, Co Cork.

David Feehan writes: “I wonder why I pay my car tax and more recently the household charge.”

  • This next road is a cul-de-sac in Allenwood North, Naas, Co Kildare but according to Rory Wilkinson, who sent the photo, it is a busy road that serves around 100 households and a number of local businesses along its half-a-mile stretch.

He writes:

We have spoken to the Co Council repeatedly and they said they would fill in the holes. But this never happened. The road needs to be skimmed right down and a new surface put on. Filling in potholes is very temporary measure.

I contacted a local FG TD and he told me that our road is not a priority and a resurfacing job is never going to happen. I paid my household tax and my car tax. I would like the County Engineer to answer, in his professional opinion, yes or no does he think that the state of our road is acceptable?

Rory says that some locals refer to it as ‘The Allenwood North Municipal Crazy Golf Course’.

  • Alan Barry sent in this photograph – taken by Ciaran Cronin – of a road which locals in Co Cork are being asked to take between Carrigtwohill and Leamlara. Part of Dooneen Bridge Lower had been washed away on the ‘main road’ at Leamlara in August of last year and the road remained closed for months, with this detour in place instead:

  • Sara McSweeney, who also lives in the area, said that work started on the bridge collapse just before Christmas but that work had stopped again in late January. The detour also adds on about 7 miles so some locals actually find themselves using stretches of the “appalling” closed road.

She writes:

The one with the cone in the middle of a large pool is a stretch of road that is constantly flooded, but there is a crater measuring about 5x2ft under that pooled water so if the cone wasn’t there, and you drove into it, your car wouldn’t be worth much afterwards.

In our area, it isn’t just the tiny back roads that are affected but roads between the villages and main shopping/work areas such as Fermoy, Middleton and Carrigtwohill as well as the road to join the M8 and it’s definitely not down to private cars but large trucks, lorries and farm machinery that use the roads.

Safe driving, folks.

Open thread: Is your local road as bad as this one?>

VIDEO: Is this Ireland’s biggest pothole?>

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