Schoolchildren are being endangered by Oranmore’s traffic ‘mayhem’, according to local Senator Fidelma Healy Eames.
The Reform Alliance Senator said she had been “inundated” with calls from parents in the past few days, some of whom could not get their children to school on time.
Some drivers reported delays of up to 25 minutes on the Maree Road approaching Oranmore during peak traffic as up to 2,000 students converge on the four schools clustered in the coastal town.
Senator Healy Eames has now called on Galway County Council to immediately act to improve traffic flow, branding morning traffic in Oranmore “dangerous”.
“I was inundated with calls and texts from frustrated parents stuck in cars on the Maree road on Friday morning as they tried to drive their children to school in the driving rain,” said the former Fine Gael Senator,
“One mother told me she had only moved in distance from Oranhill to Bluebell Woods in twenty minutes. Facing each of her three children being late for school, which they subsequently were, she had to let them walk in heavy rain and on a dangerous Maree Road with still unfinished road works after ten months,” she said, “This is unacceptable.”
Local Councilor Jim Cuddy said there were differing opinions on whether this year’s back to school traffic had worsened following the opening of Gaelscoil de hÍde, but he stressed that “it’s not getting better and that’s the bottom line”.
“It’s only two years since the Oranmore Traffic Management Plan was done, but since then, of course, the Gaelscoil has come on stream and planning permission was granted for this new supermarket, so if you put all them in to the mix, then certainly there has to be a total review of the whole traffic situation, and the volume of traffic that’s going through Oranmore,” said the Independent Councillor.
Cllr Cuddy added that it was “absolutely ridiculous” that works on the Maree Road, which have been ongoing since before Christmas, had yet to be completed.
A spokesperson for Galway County Council’s roads division said that the Maree Road roadworks would be completed within five weeks, but said that the traffic problems in Oranmore were not as severe as they had been portrayed in the media.
County Council engineers, he said, had been present in Oranmore monitoring the traffic situation every day this week, and found that traffic was “flowing quite well”. The Council spokesperson also rejected the assertion that parents were being forced into dropping their children off in dangerous situations.
“There was a lot of traffic but in general I thought it flowed quite well and there were a lot of parking spaces, and certainly I didn’t see anything in terms of people dropping off in the middle of the road or anything that looked dangerous,” said the spokesperson.
Galway County Council would, he said, continue to monitor the situation and would sit down with the school principals, bus companies and local representatives to see if any improvements could be made.
“If there’s anything we can do, we will certainly look at doing it, but it won’t get around the fact that there’s a large concentration of schools in one area in a very busy town,” he said.