Concerns that unrepaired barriers on motorways threaten commuters

Kerry motorbike enthusiast says hazardous spikes are regularly left for long spells in the middle of dual carriageways

Concerns have been expressed that delays in repairing damaged median barriers on motorways are posing a significant safety threat to commuters, especially motorcyclists.

Gerry Christie, a motorbike enthusiast from Tralee, Co Kerry, claims hazardous spikes are regularly left unrepaired for long spells in the middle of dual carriageways after vehicles have collided with "chicken wire" barriers.

Mr Christie said dangerous spikes were currently exposed on the Tralee bypass following an incident several months ago without any apparent urgency to have them removed.

He described the sight of such road hazards, which he had also experienced on several occasions in recent years on the Castleisland bypass, as "chilling".

“If a motorcyclist was to crash into the barrier at this point they would be skewered like a piece of kebab meat,” Mr Christie said.

He said that it was indefensible that the damage was allowed to remain unrepaired apart from placing traffic cones on the central median which he claimed was an acknowledgement by the authorities that a hazard existed.

“My primary issue is not with these type of barriers but the lack of prompt maintenance when damage has been caused to them and the consequent hazardous spikes which are being left on the roadside for months.”

He added: “Suppose I installed spikes on the roadside. I’d expect the authorities would take a severe view. I’d expect no less.”

A spokesman for Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) , which oversees the national roads network, admitted that there could be delays in organising repairs to damaged median barriers.

“In a perfect world repairs would be carried out immediately after an incident but there are issues surrounding the need for specialist contractors and organising road closures.”

Concrete barriers

The use of wire rope barriers, which meet EU safety standards, has been phased out on most motorways and replaced with concrete barriers but they remain in place on some dual carriageways.

The TII spokesman said it worked in collaboration with local authorities around the country on the maintenance and repair of national routes.

He said Kerry County Council was dealing directly with the issue of repairing the damaged barrier on the Tralee bypass.

A spokesperson for Kerry County Council could not be contacted on Wednesday.

However, The Irish Times has seen correspondence in which a council official said it was “not practical” to repair each individual barrier that had been damaged as and when it occurred, and blamed the problem on “reckless and speeding drivers”.