Writes Leo McMahon
The notoriously dangerous Bowen’s Cross along the Cork-Kinsale road is to be a crossroads no more. It will become a staggered junction following approval on a proposal by Cllr Ben Dalton-O’Sullivan (Ind) at a meeting of Cork County Council for a major upgrade scheme there.
The plan was already endorsed by members of Carrigaline Municipal District (MD) at their recent meeting. Along with the main R600 leading to Kinsale and West Cork, it currently serves the L2457, a steep decline to Ballygarvan and the L2456 uphill to Togher near Cork Airport, making it difficult to negotiate, especially for heavy vehicles, and is regarded as sub-standard.
The upgrade will include removal of around 500 metres of embankment on the north west (Togher) side, clearing of vegetation and road widening to improve visibility, realignment of the R600 to the north west by about 8 metres towards the Airport hill, introduce a 40 metres right-left stagger, provide a plateau on the Ballygarvan road for about 12 metres, extend the existing culvert on the Kinsale side and reconstruct drains and ditches.
In its conclusion, the report stated that the project would improve the gradient on both minor road approaches, the sightlines on all three roads and increase the carriageway on the main to include right hand turn lanes.
Addressing the MD meeting, executive engineer Michael Dymet said the scheme was advertised in June and 12 submissions were received and considered.
High speeds and poor visibility, especially from the Ballygarvan road, were among the concerns. Due to ground conditions, steep gradients and the proximity of farms and dwellings, a roundabout was not deemed suitable but a staggered junction was.
Mr Dymet said a speed limit reduction from 80kph to 60kph was proposed for this section. Removal of some trees was unfortunate but necessary and there would be re-planting where suitable.
The engineer added that according to a Transport Infrastructure Ireland document, there was the chance of reducing accidents by 60% if a staggered junction was put in place.
Cllr Michael Paul Murtagh (FG) welcomed the report but wondered if other speed reduction measures such as rumble strips could be considered leading to a dark and slippery staggered junction with two lanes at the turns on what is a tourist route. Mr Dymet replied that further examination of the speeding concern would take place at the detailed design stage, including gateway signs.
Cllr Seamus McGrath (FF) welcomed the report saying it was an issue for a long time and the scheme would be a major improvement.
Cllr Jack White (FG) concurred, saying it would be welcomed by residents and those in Bandon-Kinsale as well as Carrigaline MD. Cllr Marcia D’Alton (Ind) said it was a disaster of a junction at present so she too welcomed the report but queried safety issues for crossing the main road.
Cllr Dalton-O’Sullivan said upgrading Bowen’s Cross was his second motion when he became a councillor in 2019 so he was delighted to propose it although there were still some safety concerns and many would prefer a 50kph limit. He paid tribute to all officials involved and the local community.
He asked for an official bus stop as part of the upgrade. Cllr White seconded.
Having been adopted at the subsequent full council meeting, the next stage is detailed design followed by going to tender.
Ballygarvan Traffic Calming Scheme was adopted in September.
Members supported a motion from Cllr McGrath requesting a Safety Improvement Scheme at Fivemilebridge junction.
In a report, senior engineer Alan Cogan said he would refer this to the Non National Roads Design Office for assessment and review.
An exceptionally busy road serving Cork-Kinsale (R600) and the east-west regional road (R613), Cllr McGrath went on: ‘It’s a unique junction that most of us going through it would be extra cautious and maybe hold our breath and hope we’re doing the right thing’.
Perhaps its peculiar design was a factor in there being so few accidents there but he didn’t believe it was an acceptable form for a junction serving a high volume of heavy good vehicles and cars and badly needed re-design and an improvement scheme. In that regard, he welcomed the area engineer’s reply.
Seconding, Cllr Audrey Buckley (FF) said one got goose-pumps crossing Fivemilebridge junction, especially if a driver in front hesitated on the main road.
Cllr Murtagh agreed as did Cllr Dalton-O’Sullivan who pointed out that in a motion two years ago, he got road markings renewed. He complimented the local community group formed during Covid who, supported by the council through a community grant scheme, improved the appearance of the junction and residents of Adamstown who got their road improved under a community improvement scheme, However, they were concerned about speed, especially from the Kinsale side.
In reply to Cllr Dalton-O’Sullivan, Mr Cogan said the contractor had been contacted about installing flashing speed signs near Coolatooder Bridge near Ballinhassig and this should happen within weeks.
Cllr Dalton-O’Sullivan said a drainpipe was broken between Kirby’s Korner and Cottrell’s Shop in Ballinhassig resulting in flooding during very heavy rain on October 16th. The engineer undertook to investigate.