Almost 14,000 speeding fines issued as M7 roadworks continue

Courts Service concerned as speeding cases in Kildare court reach 369 per sitting day

The upgrade involves widening the road from two to three lanes in both directions. File photograph: Google Street View

The upgrade involves widening the road from two to three lanes in both directions. File photograph: Google Street View

 

Motorists have been warned to expect further delays on the M7 this weekend as number of speeding fines on the Naas road widening scheme soars to almost 14,000 since the roadworks began.

The works, which involve widening the road from two to three lanes in both directions to ease congestion, started in January 2018. The road is being widened for a distance of 13.6km, between junction eight Johnstown to the M7 and the M9 interchange at junction 11.

The roadworks have also contributed to some congestion in the courts. In the period January to November 2018 gardaí reported 500 detections for speeding through the 60 km/hr limit at the road-widening scheme.

But from November 26th, when two Go Safe speed detection vans were installed on site, the numbers rose with more than 100 cases in the first day alone.

There are now more than 13,700 fines issued since the roadworks began, Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) said on Friday afternoon. The last estimate that was publicly available was 4,000 fines.

Concern has been expressed by local District Court Judge Desmond Zaidan and the Courts Service over how to deal with the increase in cases.

While the number of those who choose not to pay the €80 fine and go to court instead is unknown, it is sufficiently large to have an effect on court business. Judge Zaidan remarked on the number of cases before him at Naas courthouse on March 13th.

There are more than 3,000 Go Safe cases listed for this year so far, representing fines issued across Co Kildare, including at the M7 roadworks. This would mean 369 cases being heard on each remaining sitting day of the relevant court in 2019.

Fresh cases continue to be added to the list. In mid-March some 338 cases were awaiting court dates, while the numbers of fines continued to increase.

The Courts Service said it was “ aware of a potentially large number of prosecutions arising from road works and increased monitoring of road traffic on the N7/M7 in Kildare”.

In a statement the Courts Service said its regional office have had discussions “in light of overall workloads and an already high level of traffic and other summons, which are quickly taking up available dates in 2019”.

The Courts Service said it was operatively looking at a number of solutions including increasing the number of summonses to be listed for each summons court date and for the court to sit on Fridays.

Other possible solutions being considered are to use the fifth week of some months to hear extra summons cases, and to ask that special sittings with a visiting judge be scheduled.

“The Courts Service is being very proactive in this regard and is planning ahead of the expected increase in summons”, the statement said.

The roadworks

Meanwhile, TII said “the contractor’s forecast completion date of end April/early May is considered optimistic by the [TII]site team”.

TII also warned “the removal of traffic management and speed restrictions are likely to occur on an incremental basis from the end of April, but could extend into August”.

The Garda said traffic will be directed around the area of works this weekend via the new off/on slip roads of the interchange, which is the same route used for traffic during the bridge demolition at the end of March.

“Two lanes will be maintained both ways between 6am and 10pm on Saturday and Sunday, with single-lane traffic at other times. Expect delays” the Garda said.