A BRIDGE in the south of the county is having to be altered because people’s lives are at risk.
Safety measures are due to be added to the Milltown Bridge at the N25 near Glenmore because rocks, eggs and other objects are being thrown onto vehicles passing below.
Extensive damage has been caused in some cases, and some motorists are fearful when driving under the bridge, for fear of being hit with an object and not being able to avoid it while travelling at the 100kph speed limit.
Information supplied to Kilkenny County Council by An Garda Síochána highlighted five such instances in recent months. Cars were struck by rocks on the N25 on September 22 and 23 of last year, the latter causing “extensive damage”, and eggs were thrown at vehicles November 1 and 20. Extensive damage was also caused when a rock struck a car on January 17 of this year.
Garda surveillance of the bridge and CCTV equipment have not been successful in solving the problem, despite the removal of objects likely to be thrown from the bridge.
It is now planned to provide new parapets to the bridge, at an estimated cost of “in the order of e175,000”, director of services John Mulholland told members at Monday’s meeting of Kilkenny County Council.
“It is an absolute disgrace to have to spend that kind of money to prevent criminal behaviour,” said Cllr Tom Maher (FG). “It is an isolated area. It should be easy enough to fingerpoint the offender. It is a reflection of society today that we have to spend e175,000 on one bridge to prevent people from what they should not be doing anyway.”
“Kilkenny County Council won’t be spending it – it’s the National Roads Authority – but somebody is spending this money,” Mr Mulholland pointed out.
Several councillors said their own cars had been hit by objects from above when passing under the bridge.
“The last time I came from Tullogher, I was driving and a stone came down,” Cllr Fidelis Doherty (FG) pointed out. “It’s a fly-over bridge so you can’t catch these people, and it’s easy to carry a bag of stones.”
“It is a very unsavoury situation,” Cllr Doherty added. “There are thousands of bridges across the whole country all at risk of aggressive behaviour.”
“I drive it twice daily and I always scan up to see if anybody is there,” added Anne-Maria Irish (FG). She, too, learned the hard way last winter when a large snowball hit her car from the bridge above.
“It was terrifying,” Cllr Irish said. “You know it’s coming and you can’t do anything about it.”
“As you are driving past, it is frightening to think that somebody could be overhead,” agreed Cllr Tomas Breathnach (Lab). And with five recorded incidents in the five-month period up to January, he wondered how many further incidents there had been between then and now.
Regarding the proposed new parapets, Cllr Doherty asked that the planners be mindful that tractors, trailers and combines use the bridge and that it not be narrowed so that they would not be able to use it.
Mr Mulholland said it would involve a caged enclosure like those on the motorways in Dublin and that “the design will take into account the type of machinery that use the bridge”.
Similar parapet modifications are due to take place on bridges in Fingal and Wexford, so the three projects are due to be tendered and undertaken together. Kilkenny County Council agreed on Monday that the process would be overseen by Kildare County Council, as the NRA bridge manager is based with that council.