Saturday, March 11, 2023

It is taking too long to carry out improvements works to a dangerous footpath in West Mayo, according to a local councillor.

Cllr Brendan Mulroy has accused Mayo County Council of leaving the people of Newport in ‘mid-stream’ by failing to construct a new footpath at George’s Street.

The busy street — and its notoriously narrow footpath — runs from the top of Main Street down a steep hill and around a sharp corner onto the main N59 road to Mulranny. All traffic travelling from Westport/Castlebar towards Mulranny travel along the street, including a lot of cyclists accessing the Great Western Greenway. Parents and pupils have also complained of difficulties trying to cross the street to Newport National School.

The footpath on George’s Street is notoriously narrow. Picture: Google Maps

Head of the Westport-Belmullet Municipal District Pádraic Walsh told councillors last week that the council’s roads office is working on a feasibility and options report and one of the issues that has emerged was the potential loss of parking as a result of the footpath development. The council needs to identify new parking before a full report is lodged to Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII).

Cllr Mulroy said he understood the process can be slow but that was no comfort for the people using George’s Street.

“I appreciate that a job has to be done right, but I think at this stage that the council and TII should be working with the community in relation to putting in a lollipop man or woman, who would find a safe crossing for the kids,” he said. “It is absolutely lethal and with the summer season coming, I feel it’s as if we left them mid-stream. It’s no fault of the executive because things happen slowly, but this is too slow. It’s looking like this could take over a year.”

Mr Walsh said the council simply does not have the resources to put a traffic management warden on George’s Street.

Cllr John O’Malley suggested that one of the traffic wardens be transferred from Westport for a few hours in the morning and the afternoon. However, Mr Walsh said that would not be feasible either.

Cllr Mulroy asked whether a volunteer might take on the work.

“There is a whole host of issues there around liability, insurance, a raft of details that would have to be eked out,” Mr Walsh replied.

Cllr Mulroy asked again: “If a person volunteered to do it, would the council stop them?”

Both Mr Walsh and director of services, Catherine McConnell, said they were not in a position to answer.

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