Ennis concerns over increase in speed limit for bypass


AS THE Department of Transport prepares to formally redesignate a number of the State’s new dual-carriageways as motorways, concern has arisen in Co Clare that the Ennis bypass is not suitable for the increased speeds.

The redesignation will involve a number of new dual-carriageways across the State, which the National Roads Authority says were built to motorway standards, being redesignated in a move which will raise the speed limit for motorists from 100km/h to 120km/h.

However, locals in Co Clare claim that the Ennis dual-carriageway, where the speed limit will increase from this Friday, was originally intended to cater for speeds up to 80km/h and is not designed for or safe enough for anything higher.

Retired consultant engineer Nigel Barnes said he believed elements of the bypass were “frightening and totally inappropriate” to cater for speeds of 120km/h.

Mr Barnes said: “At an oral hearing during the consultation process prior to work commencing on the Ennis bypass project, documentation was produced which clearly stated that the design speed limit for the route would be 50m/h [80km/h].”

Clare County Councillors Brian Meaney (Green) and Johnny Flynn (Fine Gael), a civil engineer and former chief fire officer for Co Limerick, have already called for a full safety audit of the project to be undertaken before the redesignation of Ennis bypass goes ahead.

Cllr Meaney sought Mr Barnes’s advice on planning matters relating to the project after issues were raised by locals in the Barefield area, near Ennis, about aspects of the project.

Mr Barnes, who has worked on other road projects in Ireland, said: “This route was originally designed to cater for speeds of no more than 50m/h. If the Ennis bypass is upgraded to motorway and has a speed limit of 120km/h, people will get hurt.”

He said the slip roads at the Tulla Road interchange in Ennis and at Barefield further north were too short and dangerous to cater for motorists slowing down from 120km/h.

Several collisions have already occurred at both locations.

However, a spokeswoman for the National Roads Authority said the road was fully tested for compliance with motorway design, including the interchanges, prior to a recommendation being made that they be redesignated.

She said the authority was aware of the concern locally, and the authority had arranged to reassess its designation for the Ennis bypass. However, it had been found to be within safety parameters.