Concerns over road safety outside new Coláiste Chiaráin school

Concerns about the safety of Coláiste Chiaráin students and other pedestrians on the old Athlone to Ballinasloe road in Summerhill have been expressed by a parent who is worried that "it's only a matter of time" before there will be an accident at this location.

Local resident Corin Bishop said the road across to the school at Summerhill is so dangerous that, since his son started secondary school in Coláiste Chiaráin this semester, he has been accompanying him to and from the crossing point on the R446 each day to ensure he gets across safely.

"We walk to school in the morning and he has to cross the road, and then I meet him there every (afternoon) because where he comes out, at the crossing on that side of the school, is a completely blind corner," Corin told the Westmeath Independent.

"You've got traffic going really fast, there's no proper road markings, the verges are overgrown, traffic signs are covered, there are no paths, and there's no safe place to cross.

"There's a 60km limit, but people are speeding along the road. It's just extremely dangerous, and there have been accidents there in the past.

"When you see children crossing, and seconds later you see traffic just whizzing by, it's a little bit scary."

Corin said the situation has been a problem for several years but his and other local residents' concerns have increased since the opening of the new state-of-the-art Coláiste Chiaráin in the last month.

He said traffic in the area was a particular issue in the mornings and afternoons with parents also dropping off or collecting children from a number of local primary schools such as Cornafulla NS, Summerhill NS, and Ardkeenan NS.

"It's already busy, and it's just going to get busier and busier," he said.

Corin said a number of safety improvements ought to be made, such as traffic calming measures, clearing overgrown trees along the roadside, and creating new road markings.

He felt those improvements should be made in the short term and in the medium term he would like to see footpaths, a 'middle section' of the road to better facilitate crossing, and a pedestrian crossing.

Street lighting in the area was also described as inadequate. "I'm dreading when the clocks change and it gets dark early in the evening. The lighting isn't going to help because that's all overgrown with trees."

Students crossing, in the distance, on the R446 Athlone to Ballinasloe road.

Local councillor John Keogh said that he and fellow Roscommon County Councillor John Naughten have been seeking improvements to road safety in the area, and he believed parents' concerns should have been addressed as part of the process of developing the new school.

"I think that a roundabout needs to go in at the junction going out to Drum but, more importantly, as you're going out the road to Ballinasloe, coming from the Ballinasloe direction, there has to be traffic calming measures put in place," Cllr Keogh told Shannonside radio on Monday.

"When it comes to trying to get these issues addressed, we are constantly having to go looking for funding off the Department of Transport and/or Transport Infrastructure Ireland to address these issues."

Cllr Keogh said there should have been "joined-up thinking between the Department of Transport and the Department of Education" to ensure that sustainable traffic management in the area was included as part of the Coláiste Chiaráin project.

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