Rest-stop concerns as 300km of road are designated motorway
A LACK of rest-stops on some 300km of newly-designated motorway was criticised yesterday as posing a major safety hazard.Sections of 10 national roads were yesterday redesignated as motorway, giving them a new speed limit of 120km/h and prohibiting learner drivers and pedestrians from using them.
Irish motorways do not yet have any service stops as in other European countries. These were essential from a safety point of view, said Automobile Association policy adviser Conor Faughnan.
“One of the major hazards on motorways is that drivers are prone to fatigue. Doing long miles on high-quality roads means that drivers are vulnerable to micro-sleep and drifting across lanes.”
However, a National Roads Authority (NRA) spokeswoman said if people were tired there were offramps into towns and villages until the service station programme was in place.
The NRA has planned over a dozen service stations on the entire motorway network. The contract for six service stations on the M1 and M4 is expected to be signed in the next few weeks. However, a tender has not yet been advertised for service stations on the remainder of the network.
Not all of the new motorway signage and road furniture were installed on the newly-classified roads yesterday.
In Co Clare, conflicting speed limit signs just yards from each other on a motorway slip-road left motorists confused. At least one 100km/h sign remained in place on the motorway between Ennis and Clarecastle, with no 120km/h sign to be found on the motorway except on two slip-roads.
The NRA said it was not possible to erect all the signs in time for the upgrade, and it hoped to have all signs up by today.
Concerns have been raised in Clare about the suitability of the Ennis bypass offramps for motorway classification. The NRA yesterday said safety checks had been carried out and the ramps complied with standards.
Learner drivers, cyclists and slow-moving tractors will have to seek new routes because they are not allowed on motorways.
With driving test waiting lists down to eight or nine weeks, “there is no reason why a learner driver should be allowed to use the motorway”, Mr Faughnan said.
Among the sections of road reclassified are: 13km of the N2 (Killshane-Ashbourne); 7km of the N4 (Kinnegad-McNead’s Bridge); 20km of the N6 (Athlone-Ballinasloe); 8.5km of the Limerick Southern Ring; 7km of the N8 (Watergrasshill-Glanmire) and the Glanmire bypass (6.3km); three sections of the N11 (including 8km from Ashford-Rathnew, 21km from Arklow-Gorey and 7km of the Arklow bypass); 2.1km of the N3 (Littlepace to Loughsallagh); two sections of the N18 (Shannon to Ennis 8.3km; Ennis bypass 12.5km); and 5km of the N20/N21 (Limerick to Attyflin).