Newhall road safety plan rejected

The Newhall roundabout.
A roundabout would have been an acceptable solution to most parties to resolve disagreement over the proposed closure of the median at Newhall Crossroads on the R445 between Naas and Newbridge.

A roundabout would have been an acceptable solution to most parties to resolve disagreement over the proposed closure of the median at Newhall Crossroads on the R445 between Naas and Newbridge.

But money is the problem.

Kildare County Councillors which made the unusual move of voting against the proposal by a narrow majority said it would cost €1.5m to build a roundabout.

Cllr. Fintan Brett took issued with the price quoted arguing the price should nearer to half a million.

Despite appeals from road engineers and the Gardai who have grace concerns over safety at the junction, Councillors voted 11-9 with three abstentions to vote against official proposal to close the median, at which there are 1,200 crossings daily.

Gardai said that traffic turning right, particularly large HGV’s, are a risk to safety and

The consequence of closing the median would be that traffic wanting to cross the median would have to go to either the “Bundle of Sticks” roundabout (1.6km away) or the Tougher roundabout (1.2km).

One possibility the the building of a business park. There is a 2006 planning permission (06/707) for one and a planning condition is the building of a roundabout at the crossroads between the R and the L2031 local roads. The permission had been extended to 2017, according to the report issued to councillors before the 29 April meeting.

There were 95 submission on the project, advertised on 17 July 2012 and 82 were against the closure. Naas area councillors have been under pressure to oppose and opted to discuss the matter in committee at a meeting on 19 April.

Officials, who created a video to show to councillors at the 29 April meeting, said the median is “clearly dangerous” which large vehicles overhanging into lanes on the 80km speed limit road.

Closure would cost €150,000, they say.

While Gardai say there have been three serious traffic incidents in the past year, opponents of the closure maintain there has been one fatal accident in 11 years and rejected the notion the area is an “accident black spot waiting to happen.”

They want the Council to lower speed limits and enforce them and put up sings instead of closing the median, seeing the solution as “draconian.”

Cllr. Willie Callaghan said traffic lights could be used and would cost €400,000 and sought information on the full cost of a roundabout.

Cllr. Seamie Moore said closure would cut the community in half.

However, Cllr. Paddy McNamara did support the closure. “You must be blind if you don’t think this is an accident waiting to happen. You must literally be blind. If a fatality happens I don’t want to be responsible,” he said.

However, Cllr. Tony O’Donnell said there have been no prosecutions for unsafe driving at the junction.

Cllr. Senan Griffin complained about a five page letter with a lot of legal language the previous evening and objected to the tone of it. He did not spell out what was in it but said: “I wouldn’t accept that sort of stuff.”

Cllr. Ritchie Daly agreed: “The members were treated with disdain,” he said.

Officials rejected various solutions.

County Manager, Michael Malone, said traffic engineers could not give an engineering solution and make it safe. A roundabout would be one safe solution but that could cost between €1-1.5m.

- Henry Bauress