A furious row has erupted in the top tourist town over half-completed traffic calming measures on the national secondary route, the N71.
The two-way carriageway used by tour buses, a tourist road train, horse-drawn carriages, delivery lorries and thousands of visiting vehicles is to be reduced in width to 6.5 metres to facilitate footpaths for cyclists and walkers. Overall, traffic arrangements in Killarney came in for huge criticism during the summer of 2015, due to confusion over some junctions, regular traffic delays, unsynchronised traffic lights and the emergence of ‘rat runs’ through side roads.
The county council has commissioned a traffic study at a cost of €40,000 to examine the congestion.
Over 200 people turned out at a public meeting in Killarney, last week, to vent concern at the works on the road which leads to major tourist attractions such as the lakes of Killarney and Muckross House.
Killarney area county councillors had approved the planned works’ scheme.
Locals have been told councillors had not been fully aware of the programme of works. Meanwhile, most residents and business interests were also in the dark about the planned road works.
Hoteliers, guesthouse owners, residents, jarveys and professional drivers such as taxi owners and lorry drivers had attended the public meeting, along with residents.
An offer from a senior council official, before the public meeting to review the design was rejected by locals.
A council roads’ engineer had offered to raise the level of the new road in line with high footpaths, and to allow cars to pull on to the footpaths for ambulances and fire engines.
However, the council chief Moira Murrell said in a statement yesterday the work was “essential” and will continue.
“The traffic calming scheme on part of the N71 national secondary road at Muckross Road is an essential project designed to improve road safety,” she said.
The busy road, it was noted, had high numbers of pedestrian accidents.
The project, it was stated, was developed by Kerry County Council in conjunction with Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII — previously National Roads Authority).
The works programme had been properly advertised and unanimously approved by Killarney Municipal Area councillors in September 2014.
“The design and execution of the project have been undertaken in full accordance with all statutory requirements,” Ms Murrell stated. She also rejected claims it was not suitable for emergency services’ vehicles.
However, the council’s chief said she was committed “to keeping this location under review”.
Meanwhile, a spokeswoman yesterday for a committee formed to fight the Muckross Road works said legal advice was being sought on seeking an interim injunction.
At last Thursday night’s meeting, Anthony Morris, an engineer, said the project had gone beyond the council and involved the NRA.
He had suggested the best way it could be fought was through “due diligence” —with technical expertise to ascertain if it had been properly publicised and on what exactly it was based.
Noel O’Donoghue, a professional driver, said the road was “already a parking lot” with traffic stalled for ten months of the year.