New plans to reopen junction on Cork to Limerick road

New plans to reopen junction on Cork to Limerick road
Locals protest by the N20 near Blarney in August.

Engineers are working on new plans to reopen a junction on the N20 Cork to Limerick road which was closed in controversial circumstances following fatal accidents.

The plan, if approved, would prevent southbound motorists from making a right turn at the Waterloo junction near Blarney.

Two US tourists in a hire car which made this right turn were killed last year. Two more US tourists were injured in another crash at the same junction making the same right turn a few months later.

Confirmation that a new plan is being prepared comes just weeks after councillors in the Blarney Municipal District formally rejected engineering proposals to close the junction for good.

The new plan is unlikely to be ready until the new year and the junction will remain closed until then.

The junction has been closed to public traffic since June 18 when work started on the resurfacing of a stretch of the N20.

It was initially described as a temporary closure but when it emerged that a council-commissioned safety-audit recommended permanent closure, locals reacted angrily and set up the Waterloo Access Group (WAG) to get it reopened.

The council subsequently launched a process, which included public consultation, seeking to extinguish the right of way at the junction.

But WAG threatened a judicial review of the temporary closure process claiming the council did not follow due process.

They said a temporary closure is legally separate and distinct from the issue of whether the public right of way should be extinguished.

But despite public and political opposition to permanent closure, the council, on foot of new legal advice, published a public notice seeking the ‘urgent temporary closure’ of the road until December 31, citing ‘public safety’ as the reason.

Within days, councillors formally voted to reject the permanent closure proposal.

Engineers have now confirmed they are working on an alternative design in consultation with Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII).

Their 'left in, left out' proposal, which was one of the options considered but ruled out in the original safety audit, would allow traffic travelling north on the N20 to turn left at the junction, and would allow local residents coming from Waterloo to turn left onto the N20.

But the plan would prevent southbound motorists from making the dangerous right turn.

Engineers said they hope to complete the design, carry out a safety audit, proceed to public consultation and, if the scheme is approved, go to construction quickly.

"Our team is working as quickly as possible with a view to having these stages completed by year-end, which will be challenging. We will be dependent on availability of contractors," the council said in a statement.

"In the meantime, the junction will remain closed as it would be unsafe to open it in its current layout."

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