Traffic Infrastructure Ireland (TII) has installed a number of cameras at a controversial motorway junction where a man was killed earlier this year.
The cameras, which have been set up to monitor driver behaviour, are filming activity in the vicinity of junction 13 on the M18 near Ennis in Co Clare.
Concerns have been expressed on several occasions since the Ennis Bypass was completed in 2007 and later upgraded from dual-carriageway to motorway status in 2009.
The controversial redesignation led to claims that two particular interchanges were “confusing, badly designed and badly laid out”. When the route was further extended to Gort in Galway, similar concerns were raised in relation to another junction at Crusheen.
While other interchanges on the route feature separate on and off ramps, a contraflow system was installed at junctions 13, 14 and 15. This means that traffic leaving and entering the motorway network pass each other on the same stretch of road with no crash barrier separating vehicles.
Motorists also have a very short time to decelerate from 120km/h before turning off at these junctions which feature sharp 90-degree turns. The filter lane onto the motorway is also so short that traffic is often backed up dangerously waiting to safely enter lane one.
Last June, a fatal crash involving a truck and a van at junction 13, happened only a few hundred metres on the opposite side from where a 72-year-old woman was killed in October 2009 after she mistakenly made a wrong turn on to the M18 which took her into the path of oncoming traffic.
A safety audit undertaken by the then National Roads Authority (now TII) before the opening of the Ennis bypass was called into question in 2009, just weeks before the N18 was upgraded to motorway status.
A spokesman for TII has now confirmed: “TII have installed cameras as part of an evidence based approach to studying the interaction between the driver behaviour and the interchanges.
We anticipate the study to take a few months to observe under varied conditions (weather situations, day and night) and TII will report the finding once concluded.”
Clare councillor Johnny Flynn (FG), a civil engineer and former chief fire officer for Co Limerick, has previously stated that a safety audit of the N18, which was undertaken before the route was upgraded to motorway status, was not adequate and that the motorway was “unfinished” and “not completed to the highest safety standard.”
Cllr Flynn said yesterday: “My serious safety concerns centre on the poor design and short lengths of the on/off ramps in terms of coming off and going into traffic travelling at 120 km/h. In fact, I objected to the introduction of the speed at that time due to what I considered unsafe on/off ramps particularly at Junction 13 on Tulla Road.”
“I welcome CCTV at Junction 13 to study driver behaviour and hope that increased lengths of ramps will be provided or alternatively that the speed limit be reduced along the stretch from J12 to beyond J14 be reduced to 100km/h,” he added.
East Clare Councillor Pat Hayes has also reiterated calls he previously made for the TII to undertake a safety review of the route.