Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland's eight-foot pothole a deathtrap, warns Green Party

By Donna Deeney

An eight-foot pothole in west Tyrone has damaged dozens of cars and could cause a fatality, the Green Party has said.

The defect on the Derrybard/Greenmount Road, near Fintona, is almost eight inches deep.

The owner of a local garage said his staff once replaced tyres on 31 vehicles in a single day because of the pothole.

Ryan Weir, who owns WW Tyres on the Derry Road in Omagh, added drivers were being caught out, especially on wet days, when it is impossible to see the depth of the crater.

"Every day we see people who have driven through that pothole and, in fact, we replaced tyres on 31 cars in a single day," explained the businessman.

"You have to feel sorry for people, especially on a wet day because so many of them are hitting that pothole at maybe 40 or 50 miles an hour thinking that it's a puddle and then losing their tyres.

"A new tyre can cost anything up to £150, depending on the make and model of the car.

"Some of the people who hit the pothole have lost two tyres, so it is tough on them, especially when the tyres were in good condition."

Nearby garage owner Conor McCarney said it was not just tyres that were being damaged by the pothole.

"There are no shortage of potholes around here, but that one on the Derrybard Road is huge and is causing a lot of damage to a lot of people's cars," he explained. "We have seen an increase in the number of people coming to us who have thought it was only a puddle and have not realised there is a deep pothole.

"Besides busted tyres and cracked rims, the cars we have seen have damaged shock absorbers and have had bends to the steering, so people are being badly caught."

The Department for Infrastructure, which is responsible for repairing potholes, recently confirmed it had paid out £500,000 between January 1, 2016, and November 30 last year in compensation to drivers whose cars were damaged.

There were 1,935 claims for vehicle damage during that period.

A total of 80,000 road defects were recorded at more than 16,000 locations last year.

West Tyrone Green Party activist Ciaran McClean said the Greenmount Road pothole should be repaired before it caused a serious accident or a fatality.

"The level of deterioration in the roads generally has resulted in a significant increase in the number of potholes everywhere, but what is concerning about this particular pothole is the level of danger to motorists," Mr McClean added.

"This is the main road from Fintona over to the A5, so it is well used and so many of the people driving on it recently have done a lot of damage to their cars.

"But I think unless this pothole is repaired as a matter of urgency, we could be looking at a fatality.

"If a motorcyclist hits that pothole they won't stand a chance and, because it is on a corner, anyone who knows it is there has to swerve onto the other side of the road to avoid it.

"The potential for a fatality is all too real."

Between April 2015 and August 2017, the Department for Infrastructure repaired 193,721 road surface defects at a cost of more than £24m.

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