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Markey calls solar powered speed limit signs ‘very poor value’

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The Mid-Louth Civic Services Centre in Ardee. Photo Credit: Adrian Crawley.

The cost of installing a pair of solar-powered speed limit signs on the approach to schools around the county could hit schools in the pocket for €24,000, Louth County Council say.

Councillors at Thursday’s Ardee Municipal District meeting were told that Shelagh National School in Hackballscross and Walshestown National School in Granebellew received such traffic safety measures in recent years as part of a low cost safety scheme.

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However, senior engineer Mark Johnston told the meeting that the cost of purchasing and installing an individual sign could range from €9,000 to €12,000 and that was a “big hit” for schools.

Fine Gael councillor Colm Markey said those estimates were “very poor value for money” and when he asked whether a discount could be obtained were the local authority to buy and install in bulk on behalf of schools in the county, he was told it was unlikely.

The issue was raised by cathaoirleach of the Ardee Municipal District Dolores Minogue who asked whether there was a facility in place where the local authority could provide match funding for the installation of such traffic calming measures.

She cited the reported cost of €12,000 per sign and that figure was not disabused by Johnston, although he state costs did depend on the location of the road and what exact traffic calming measures were required. He said the cost could be as low as €9,000 per sign.

Cllr Markey felt €12,000 per sign was not a cost effective use of funds. “What are you getting for your €12,000?  You’re essentially two poles and a flashing speed limit sign,” he said.

“For €12,000, it seems like very poor value for money. If there’s 100 schools and you got 15 or 20 expressions of interest, could you go and see if you could get better value for money?

“For 20 schools, you’re looking at a contract for €240,000. Surely we can get better value for that?”

Senior Engineer Johnston said that signs themselves cost €3,000 – two of which would be needed for each side of the road approaching the school in question – and then it would cost another €3,000 for putting the poles into the ground and dealing with foundations. “The best price you are going to get is €9,000,” he said.

Cllr Minogue said she had been in contact with a number of schools in the Ardee area. “Every school I spoke to said it was a fantastic idea, in principal.

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The conversation began at the Ardee Municipal District meeting after Councillor Jim Tenanty inquired about upgrading the pedestrian crossings in the town with an illuminated lights, to make them more visible for drivers.

Cllr Markey suggested the use of LED lights, placed along the ground of the crossing.  “I saw in Cashel recently, they have the equivalent of flashing cats eyes at the pedestrian crossing on the ground,” he said. “I thought they were quite effective.”

Johnston told the councillors those kind of solar powered lights are available but they are not long-lasting. “They are great as long as they keep working. A lot of them don’t last very long, they might only last six months. They don’t have longevity of life.”

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