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Thursday, 15th October 2020

Campaign for pathways in East Meath gathers pace

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The end of the footpath at Colpe, plenty of space for cars though.

In 1978 a scheme called the Per Cent for Art, which allocates 1% of the cost of motorways to works of art, was introduced which was very welcome, especially if you’re an artist.

Sadly though, 42 years later, while we have a fine motorway system dotted with lovely works of art, many thousands of our children still have to be driven to school or else take their chances by walking or cycling along roads with no footpaths and often no street lights.

Things are beginning to change but you would have thought that, for instance when four new schools were built in East Meath, that some thought would have been given to how the children living in the surrounding housing developments would gain access to those schools.

Rory Scott lives in Grangerath and like many people in the area he is incensed by the lack of footpaths between there and the new Educate together school on the Mill Road as well as the other three schools and has written to all of the Councillors in the area.

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He points out that children travelling to school from the Grangrerath estate, including his 13 year old Nephew Andrew, must cross Colpe Road Railway Bridge which is where the footpath runs out.

Rory has already been on to Deputy Fergus O’Dowd who last week received assurances from Meath County Council that warning signage will be installed.

That’s fine, but Rory says that additional safety measures such as flashing lights and rumble strips should also be procured.

“People driving by need to know that there are four schools are in the vicinity” he said.

In his letter Rory asks the Councillors to contact the Engineer and the Road Safety Officer as a matter of urgency to get the speed limit on the bridge reduced to 50 m/h and also to replace what he terms “the criminal 80 km/h” sign on the Mill Road outside the new Educate Together school to 50km/h as a matter of urgency.

“No child should walk outside their school gate to a speed sign that says 80km/h” he says. “Also, the corner from the Mill Road to Colpe Road is dark and dangerous and shrubbery should be cut to the bare minimum to ensure pedestrians are not knocked down.

Rory also asked Councillors to  apply pressure to ensure that the NTA are approached for investment based on the six year old report to ensure the proper walkway and cycleway are built as a matter of urgency and if the proposed new housing development does get approval that the walkway and cycleway are built before any housing building commences.

In their response to Deputy O’Dowd Meath County Council said that significant transport infrastructure for the area is proposed as part of the private development of the lands between the Marsh Road/Mill Road and the Colpe Road.

This will include new roads connecting to the schools and the realignment of a section of Colpe Road and the southern section of Mill Road. Also included in the proposals are cycle lanes/paths, access road to the (new) development and associated car park, footpaths, grass verge, public lighting and the provision of a footpath and cycle-path / cycle lane on Colpe Road to tie-in with the existing shared footpath / cycle-path, to the south-west of the railway line. 

But the Council are working on the assumption that all of this infrastructure was to be provided in conjunction with the development of the area and that public monies would not be required.

“Therefore, the Council has not made provision for this expenditure in its capital plan and does not currently have funding for such a significant project” they say. “In light of this it appears the construction of additional links to the Mill Road may still be some time off.”

 They do say however that “In the short term, the Councils Municipal District Office will procure and install warning signage to warn drivers of the presence of pedestrians on the road ahead.

This article was written by Andy Spearman

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