Councillors at last Thursday’s meeting of the Ardee Municipal District committee have been told that repeated calls for the relocation of the controversial pedestrian crossing on Castle Street in Ardee must come with concrete plans of where it should go and how much it will cost.
Independent councillor Jim Tenanty tabled a motion at the meeting held at the Mid-Louth Civic Service Centre asking Louth County Council to remove the crossing completely – saying it was a danger to pedestrians, motorists and cyclists.
“It’s far too close to the junction and it should be removed,” he told the meeting. “At the time it sounded like a good idea, but with the volume of traffic going through the town and being so close to Sean O’Carroll Street, it’s a danger.
“We should push to get this pedestrian crossing removed. A fatality will take place and then we’ll all be jumping on it,” he continued. “It’s too close to the junction”, added Fianna Fail’s Liam Reilly.
Cathaoirleach Dolores Minogue concurred that the pedestrian crossing in it’s current position posed a real danger but felt that a relocation – as opposed to a removal – would be more adequate.
“I agree with Cllr Tenanty, but removing it and not replacing it with something will be equally as dangerous,” she said. “Cllr Tenanty is right to raise it. We need to move it – not get rid of it. We did a survey and it showed that was the busiest junction for OAPs for banks and their shopping.”
“We need to revisit it but not get rid of it completely. We need a safe crossing,” Minogue said. Pearse McGeough felt the danger at the crossing “jumps out of you”. He fully supported Tenanty’s motion. “It’s a health and safety isue,” he added.
Togher-based councillor Colm Markey agreed with the overall sentiment of the motion but said he would only support it were the last line of the motion removed. In it, Tenanty said ‘Do we have to wait for a fatality before action?’
“I think the last comment is inappropriate. I won’t be supporting it as it is.” Tenanty’s motion was amended to remove the remark about potential fatalities and to seek a new location for it.
“It’s a wonder how a pedestrian crossing was ever put there. It seems strange that a crossing was ever put so close to a junction. If we pass this motion today, how can we deliver it?”, Markey asked.
Councillor Reilly – who described the motion as an ‘aspiration’ – suggested the Ardee Municipal District representatives bring up the issue with Transport Infrastructure Ireland at next week’s meeting regarding an N52 Ardee bypass.
However, Louth County Council senior executive engineer Sean O’Reilly warned against going to the TII with the problem without a well thought out plan of action on how to approach it. He suggested coming up with an alternative location for the crossing before bringing the matter to the TII.
“If it’s going to move, where will it move to? It will have an impact on the current parking. If we’re sourcing funding, we have to go in with where it’s moving to and how much it will cost to move.”
When asked about the decision to first install the crossing at the junction of Castle Street, Market Street, Sean O’Carroll Street and the Ashwalk, Reilly said, “That’s what was suggested at the time, that’s what was done.”
Last May, local councillors were told by now former Louth County Council engineer Gerry Kelly that the National Roads Authority would be asked to fund the move.
In 2015, the council spoke of the difficultly involved in finding somewhere else to put the pedestrian crossing along the main street. They also referred to the substantial cost involved in relocating it, meaning any prospect of change was not on the immediate agenda. The crossing originally cost €11,000 to install.