By Sean Moriarty
Plans to overhaul the layout of the Killarney bypass can move forward to the next phase following a High Court decision this week.
The much-needed project, which includes the realignment of Lewis Road and the construction of a new roundabout to take traffic from the Kilcummin side, was delayed as a result of a judicial review.
Details of the legal case were not made public but the Killarney Advertiser understands it related to the purchase of lands required to construct the new roundabout.
On Tuesday, Kerry County Council revealed that the legal proceedings were dismissed by the High Court allowing the Council to proceed with the next phase of the scheme.
The Killarney bypass and its intersection with Lewis Road has been high on the Council’s priority list for years.
It has been the scene of several fatal accidents and it is considered a traffic blackspot in the town.
Over 18,000 vehicles a day use the road.
Now that the plans can go ahead it is expected that the project will include a new roundabout between the entrance to the fire station and existing roundabout at the Killarney Sports and Leisure Complex/Woodlands Industrial Estate entrance.
This new roundabout will take traffic travelling to and from the Kilcummin area away from the dangerous Lewis Rd/Kilcummin Road junction.
It will also be used to prevent traffic turning right onto Lewis Road; instead traffic will continue to the new roundabout and double-back to Lewis Road.
“I welcome the news that the proposals for the Lewis Road junction to improve safety can now proceed to the next phase of this scheme. This is a positive step in addressing road safety issues at this dangerous junction,” Mayor of Killarney Brendan Cronin said.
Several councillors including Niall Kelleher have been campaigning for years to get these works approved. In 2018 he led a petition – which was signed by over 5,000 people – following a fatal accident in the area.
He also led a deputation to Dáil Éireann where concerned residents met with the Department of Transport and Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) officials.
“This put the issue high on their agendas and we got funding and design approval after that,” Mr Kelleher told the Killarney Advertiser. “It was hoped that construction would have started last year but the judicial review is due process and people are entitled to this.”
While the news that the bypass project can move to the next phase is very welcome, an issue remains on how to get pedestrians to and from the Lewis Road side to the Killarney Legion and Killarney Celtic playing fields off the Kilcummin Road. A previous proposal to build an underpass was rejected by residents of Bridgefield Estate.
“People attending matches at Legion or Celtic are entitled to cross the bypass without actually walking on the road itself,” added Mr Kelleher. “There are a number of options being considered here.”
It is understood that Kerry County Council are examining several options, including alternative locations for an underpass and the potential construction of an overbridge.
THE NEXT PHASE
The news that works can finally go ahead on the bypass road are welcome but this is only the start of it.
The next phase will include the construction of a new road, linking Park Road with the bypass. It is anticipated that this new road would start on Lower Park Road, near McDonald’s Restaurant and exit on the existing bypass somewhere near the fire station.
This plan, currently under consideration by Kerry County Council, would take traffic from Daly’s Roundabout and the Lewis Road junction. It would also allow a new access to the Deerpark Shopping Centre, reducing traffic on Upper Park Road.
“This will make both Daly’s and the Cleeney Roundabout safer and will take pressure off the Lewis Road,” Cllr Niall Kelleher told the Killarney Advertiser. “The whole motive [behind the bypass works] is to take pressure off Lewis Road.”