HGV traffic through Fermoy should be restricted, local group believe
Fermoy is one of the few places with a bypass not to restrict heavy goods vehicles from coming through the town. The local group 'Revive Fermoy' want to see that changed.
With the bridge down to a single lane southbound because of the flood relief works in the past two weeks, the issue of traffic congestion in the town has come to a head.
"The trend in Ireland since motorways were completed around towns has been to restrict traffic access through the town," Cian O'Meara of Revive Fermoy says. "People are always welcome to visit a town and to stop there, but those simply driving through must be encouraged - or compelled - to use the more appropriate route," he says, adding that is the way in most countries in Europe.
"We need to act now and protect our towns from traffic abuse. Waterford, Maynooth and Dublin have all enacted local laws to ban HGV thoroughfares where a more appropriate route exists."
The group have an ally in new mayor, Olive Corcoran who is also concerned at current traffic volumes. She told The Avondhu recently that she'd asked Direct Route to reduce the toll for the duration of the flood relief works to incentivise traffic and particularly heavy goods vehicles, from entering the town. She says Direct Route weren't inclined to do so.
The Revive Fermoy group also raised the matter with Direct Route, pointing out that they lose six vehicles for every one that enters the M8 at Corrin. "They simply drive the old R639 through Rathcormac," Cian O'Meara says. He believes Direct Route stand to gain extra customers by reducing the toll charge and that such a move would be hugely beneficial for Rathcormac, making it as quiet as villages like Castlelyons and Kilworth.
Cian says the ironic thing is that vehicles, especially loaded HGVs, would save time and money by using the M8 toll road around Fermoy. The group commissioned fuel and time usage tests using a local haulier. "The results are compelling; travelling from Mitchelstown to the Jack Lynch tunnel on the M8, a 40 ton loaded HGV will use 7.2 litres of diesel less and will take on average 16 minutes less," Cian points out, "and that was before the second lane was closed on the bridge."
While larger haulage firms seem to have realised this and use the motorway, a lot of individual hauliers don't seem to be convinced. Others are using the town to access local firms which the group believe could be also be done cheaper and faster by staying on the motorway for longer.
The Revive Fermoy group have done the sums and say the bottom line for hauliers is a big saving. With toll costs for a multi-axle vehicle at €6, after a 10% multi trip discount, taking off VAT and also the 12.5% corporation tax, the net cost to the haulier or company is €3.84. With the cost of three litres of diesel and 11 minutes of drive time estimated at approximately €7, after taxes the net cost comes down to around €4. Wear and tear on the vehicle, not insignificant on a HGV stopping and starting, adds to that. On the full M8 Mitchelstown to Jack Lynch tunnel trip, that's up to €6 per trip, they say. "Nobody operating a business should be doing so. To restrict HGVs driving through the town would be to save them from themselves," Cian O'Meara says.
There are other arguments too, he outlines, such as the health and safety considerations and the attractiveness of the town as a place to live, work and play. Referring to a recent report by An Taisce about air quality which stated that poor air quality, caused mosty by traffic, leads to 3,400 early deaths and costs Ireland up to €6.3 billion annually, he said 'there is absolutely no argument'.
"We in Revive Fermoy have counted up to 320 HGVs coming through the town in a 24 hour period in October last year that could have used the bypass. That's 1,000 litres of diesel burnt unnecessarily within the roundabouts of Moorepark and Corrin, within the town. Imagine the uproar if that were done more visibly. And that's only HGVs," Cian O'Meara stressed.
"Consider the recent consternation when it was proposed that the trucks carrying soil for the flood relief works would be driving through Coolagown or Fermoy at a rate of 80 loads per day. We have over 300 per day toll-avoiding HGVs and nothing's been done," he pointed out. Added to that is the danger of HGVs containing hazardous, toxic and flammable materials being driven through the busy town centre.
The Revive Fermoy group have been in contact with the Minister for Transport who suggested they seek local traffic laws through the local authority, restricting access to certain roads where it's deemed appropriate. They are aware of local councillors having championed such a cause elsewhere.
"To prioritise, incentivise and restrict traffic where appropriate would help Fermoy thrive again. We encourage all those with the authority in these areas to act together expediently for our combined wellbeing," the spokesperson for Revive Fermoy concluded.
Friday 12th July 10:53am