While some councillors felt that the review of Laois speed limits had dragged on to the point where they would soon be passing themselves out by overlapping with the next review due around the corner, mostly they were relieved to learn that limits on the N80 would be preserved rather than increased.
The review of the speed limits for Laois roads has been going on for some time and has finally been adopted by the Council.
Councillors had been reluctant to sign off on the adoption of the speed limits as the sanctioning authority Transport Infrastructure Ireland (formerly the NRA and now TII) had been looking to increase speed limits from 80kph to 100kph on the approach to some towns along the N80.
The elected members of the Council in turn were seeking to have the limits reduced down from 80kph, but in the finish were satisfied, with some reservations let it be said, to go with the status quo and settle for the limits to remain as they currently stand and stay at 80kph.
Seeking clarification to the speed limits documentation containing the proposals and details for the various routes, councillors were repeatedly assured by the Director of Services responsible, Mr Donal Brennan that he had gone back to the TII and made overtures on their behalf.
It was now agreed with the TII that the speed limits along the N80 in Laois would remain at 80kph, rather than being increased.
Councillors Catherine Fitzgerald, Paddy Bracken, Tom Mulhall and Paddy Bracken were among those who raised concerns about the speed limits coming into build up areas in Portlaoise, Mountmellick and Ballylinan.
They also noted issues on the Carlow Ring Road and the N80 through Arles and Ballickmoyler.
Recommending the adoption of the speed limits Donal Brennan said that while they may not be perfect but they are the best that can be achieved at this time. Another review could be conducted in two to three years’ time.
“If Ballylinan stays the same, no change, then I’m reasonably happy with that,” said Cllr Padriag Fleming.
“It was a crazy suggestion to propose an increase of the limit on the N80 in the first place, at the likes of the soccer pitch at Rossleighan in Portlaoise, I’m not happy with that,” Cllr Catherine Fitzgerald expressed her dismay with the attitude of the TII.
She was glad they had agreed to leave the limit as it is. She said there were hundreds of people using that road and the paths were very narrow.
Neither could she understand the TII trying to increase the speed limit at Cherrygarth and Kylebrook.
“The limits on the N80 through Portlaoise are now remaining the same,” Donal Brennan assured the councillors by way of further clarification of the documentation before them.
Cllr Caroline Dwane-Stanley called was glad that common sense had prevailed with the TII.
“I couldn’t believe they wanted to increase the speed limits. These are unelcted people sitting in offices trying to increase the speed limit on the Mountmellick Road when a reduction is what’s required,” said Cllr Dwane.
“We are also way behind time with this speed limit review, can we not speed up the process,” queried Cllr Tom Mulhall, without a hint of irony.
He said they are merely trying to put health and safety first, particularly for children and at schools like the Heath and Rath.
Cllr John King observed that while they were trying to extend the speed limits zone and reduce speed the TII were trying to increase the speed limits through towns.
Cllr John Joe Fennelly noted that the original proposals put to them to increase the speed limits were not acceptable. He said that the incorrect speed limit was signed at Heritage House on the way into Abbeyleix and he also wanted the limit reduced at the waste water plant at Tullyroe.
Chairman, Cllr Willie Aird, was in full agreement with his colleagues.
“We are on a collision course with the TII unless they change their policy.
“The idea of increasing the speed limit on the Abbeyliex Road coming up to a set of traffic lights and at Rossleighan makes no sense.”
“It is total madness from the TII to propose an increase in the speed limits coming in to town along the N80 and then be talking about road safety at the same time,” concluded Cllr Paddy Bracken.