NRA blames hailstones for car crashes along €207m M18
Hailstones have been blamed by a state agency for a spate of traffic accidents and road closures on a €207m stretch of motorway.
In a letter to Clare Fine Gael TD Joe Carey, the National Road Authority's (NRA) Programme & Regulatory Manager, Gary Lynch, has attributed accidents along the M18 route to intense hail storms.
Mr Lynch was responding to the deputy's concerns over the high number of accidents on the route between Crusheen and Gort which was only opened to traffic in 2010.
"There would be a particular problem associated with hail storms along the M18 which seem to be more frequent along this route than at other locations throughout the national road motorway network,"
Mr Lynch wrote. "It was such a hail storm on January 13, 2015 which resulted in skidding accidents and the closure of the road for a time by the gardai."
An earlier hail storm on the route near Newmarket on Fergus in February 2014 resulted in five separate car crashes over 10 minutes.
Mr Lynch wrote that "it is worth noting that some of the hail storms recorded had such intensity that at one time they caused the road temperature to drop by approximately 5 C in a 30-minute period".
Mr Lynch has confirmed that he has discussed the conditions experienced on the M18 with the head of forecasting at Met Eireann, Gerald Fleming, who "noted that these localised, short and intense hail showers are virtually impossible to predict or forecast".
Mr Carey said that he is disappointed with the NRA response.
"It is bizarre that the NRA would blame hailstones for the accidents on one particular stretch of road and not say what plans they have in place to reduce the number of accidents on the route," he added.