PARENTS have spoken of how they have to drive a 300-yard distance from their home to drop their children off at a Letterkenny school because it is not safe to walk the short stretch.
Fresh calls were made this week by parents, grandparents and the principal of Lurgybrack National School for greater safety measures to be rolled out.
Lurgybrack NS is located on a 100kph speed limit road and has a reduced speed limit in place of 60kph during busy drop off and pick up times. Parents drive in to a safe lay-by at the school to let their children out of the vehicle. They are immediately met by staff and are ushered onto school grounds. A similar procedure is in place for home time.
However, there have been longstanding safety concerns, specifically regarding vehicles rejoining the main road.
An extension to the school’s car park has helped alleviate pressures, and it is thought safety issues will be addressed following the construction of the N56/N13 Letterkenny to Manorcunningham TEN-T Priority Route Improvement Scheme.
The Donegal News went along on Tuesday morning to see for ourselves the daily routine and to hear concerns.
Paddy Gildea drops off and collects his two grandchildren Mason (7) and 11-year-old Caithlin Boyle to school most days. They live a short distance from the school but instead of walking, Paddy said he drives his grandchildren to school, parking just past the entrance in an unofficial lay by.
“I am only 300 metres up the road but I have to drive them because there is not an inch of road you can walk on because it is a lane of traffic. I park in the lay-by and walk them down. It’s a big issue in winter time as it turns very muddy and children have to go into school with mud on the shoes.
“My own children came here 35 years ago and it is an absolutely great school with brilliant teachers. The new dual carriageway has calming measures for business people but there is nothing for 500 people going into this school. We are going to have a bypass here with the TEN-T but it won’t meet this generation.”
Sara Kostrzewa’s five-year-old daughter Aria attends the school. Sara lives in Drumkeen. She said she parks at the lower end of the school in the car park and walks her daughter to the school gates.
“Home times are really busy. I make sure I am here half an hour beforehand because the spaces in the car park fill up. I’d like to see a bigger car park at the school.”
Another parent Sophia, who has one child attend Lurgybrack NS, also said extra car parking might be the answer. She said trying to rejoin the stretch of road after dropping her child off can be difficult.
Principal Annraoi Cheevers said a designated area above the school would help. He said there is a makeshift lane there which people make use of.
“In one sense it is good that it is there because it certainly alleviates the traffic volume you would have at the school at collection time. Things are very safe with regards the dropping off and collecting of children. Parents are able to pull in at the lay-by and drop children off. The problem that we have is that the queues of cars are backed up on the climbing lane and are then rejoining the road. There is extreme caution needed.
“The other issue is we have intermittent electronic speed limits in place but some cars might be coming up slowly but the majority are coming up at their normal speed. Parents are extremely used to the routine. They are extremely patient and practice common sense at all times. The issues are coming off the road into the lay-by and rejoining the road.
“A development of the area a few hundred yards up past the school would be a good alleviation measure.”
Councillor Jimmy Kavanagh raised the issue at a meeting of Letterkenny-Milford Municipal District on Monday. The motion was passed and council engineers are to assess the area.