Local authority officials are opposed to the erection of any further safety railings at pedestrian crossing junctions councillors have been told.
While it used to be standard to install railings at such footpath and roadway intersections in the past, it is no longer regarded as best practice.
This was the official response given by the Portlaoise Area Engineer, Mr Wes Wilkinson when the issue was raised again by Cllr Noel Tuohy.
Cllr Tuohy is looking to have safety railings put in place adjacent to the pedestrian crossing on the Ridge Road and the Parkview intersection near the Leisure Centre.
The Portlaoise councillor continues to press the matter as he believes the railings would serve as a deterrent to young children running across the road and taking a short corner instead of using the pedestrian crossing.
There is a great deal of pedestrian and motor traffic in the vicinity, not only from the Leisure Centre and playing pitches but St Brigid’s, Dr Murphys, Parkview, as well as the estates and traffic from the Ridge Road, Forest Park, Esker Hills and Bianconi Way.
The proposal was supported by Cllr Catherine Fitzgerald, while Cllr Tuohy said he could not understand or justify why such railings were in place at all other similar junctions all over the town and were now being deemed unsafe at the Ridge Road.
“This makes no sense whatsoever. This is a busy and highly dangerous junction and there are children running straight out on to the Ridge Road.
“There are barriers everywhere else, except here. If you just go up the road at Mill View, the Church, the Parochial House, the Stradbally Road, Bridge Street, Main Street and James Fintan Lalor Avenue there are railings both sides of the road, everywhere except at the Ridge Road.
“If these railings are unsafe well then it’s only logical that they should be removed from all the other locations,” queried Cllr Tuohy.
Mr Wilkinson responded that the railings were put in at a time when the guidelines were different. These had now changed and it was deemed best practice not to use railings.
He said that the view now was that railings could cause problems, if someone was walking on the outside of them.
They had to be one hundred per cent sure they were safe, to be certain not to leave the Council open to any issues or liability.
Cllr Tuohy still insisted that the railings were safer than open access on to the roadway and if there was best practice then it needed to make sense and be consistent.
Engineer Wilkinson pointed out that there are hazards such as the danger of a crush risk if people walked along the outside of such railings.
Cllr Fitzgerald said that the junction at the Ridge Road needed to be made safe in the vicinity of the pedestrian crossing as it was very dangerous for small children and parents with buggies.
Cllr Willie Aird agreed with Noel Tuohy saying that there were small children coming out of the Leisure Centre, the pitches and play area on to the Ridge Road and this was a real risk.
He said you seldom if ever see someone cutting outside the railings as the rails guided them around to the crossing.
Mr Wilkinson agreed that the Portlaoise Municipal District Office will carry out a video survey of the junction within the next 6 to 7 weeks.
The outcome of the survey will determine the most appropriate design solution to address the issues at the Ridge Road junction.