Anger over bypass left ‘unfinished’ and ‘unsafe’

THE National Roads Authority (NRA) has begun installing emergency telephones on the M18 Ennis bypass, over a year after the route was upgraded to motorway status, however it has been claimed that the route remains unfinished and unsafe.

The controversial redesignation of the bypass in August last year has also led to claims that two particular interchanges are “confusing, badly designed and badly laid out”.

Clare councillor Johnny Flynn (FG), a civil engineer and former chief fire officer for Co Limerick, believes a safety audit of the N18, which the NRA claims was undertaken before the route was upgraded to motorway, was not adequate and that the motorway remains “unfinished”.

“I cannot believe that a year after the M18 was upgraded, installation of the phones has still not been completed. I have asked the NRA on several occasions to address serious issues regarding the layout of the route and signage and they have failed to do so. As far as I am concerned, the M18 as a project has not been completed to the highest safety standard. Other newer motorways have been completed with phones installed and the Ennis bypass still doesn’t have them,” Mr Flynn said.

“Speed determines the seriousness of a collision and of a person’s injuries. Similarly, the speed with which the alarm is raised after a crash is crucially important so that victims can receive the best possible treatment in the fastest possible time. After a crash, anyone who is involved in, or witnesses to, an accident can be confused, stressed and disorientated and might not know exactly where they are.

“With the SOS phones, the operator will know immediately what phone the call is made from and can direct the emergency services to the correct location,” Mr Flynn added.

While the N18 Ennis bypass was redesignated and became the M18 motorway in August 2009, the M6 between Athlone and Galway had the easily identifiable orange SOS phones installed before the route was opened.

Work to install the phones on a newer stretch of the M18, which has not opened yet, commenced before the retrograde installation on the existing M18 started.

An NRA spokesman confirmed: “Any retro fitting of the existing network is currently taking place and new motorways will have them upon opening. All retro fitting will be completed by autumn of 2010.”

The NRA has said it is not obligatory to have restriction usage signage on the new motorway network, but it is a sign the NRA has used to notify drivers and will continue to use when and where appropriate,” a spokesperson said.

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