| 4.5°C Belfast

Plea to reclassify motorway so Ballymena's farmers can use it


Close

The stretch of A26 at Ballymena which is at the centre of the council’s proposal

The stretch of A26 at Ballymena which is at the centre of the council’s proposal

The stretch of A26 at Ballymena which is at the centre of the council’s proposal

Officials have been urged to reclassify a motorway at Ballymena as a dual carriageway to allow farmers easier access to a livestock market.

Councillors at a meeting in the town unanimously supported a proposal from DUP representative Tom Gordon to write to the Department for Infrastructure (DfI).

The move follows reports that farmers currently have to negotiate a "nightmare" junction to leave the A26 road to avoid the M2 Ballymena bypass.

The matter was raised at a meeting of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council in Ballymena this week.

A motion proposed by Mr Gordon said: "That this council supports the efforts of the farming community and the Ulster Farmers' Union in their bid to secure the reclassification of the stretch of motorway from Teeshan to Larne Road roundabout to dual carriageway; in the interests of road safety, by writing to the Department for Infrastructure."

Mr Gordon said that in the mid-1960s it was decided to build a bypass around Ballymena to take through traffic out of the town and a stretch of the M2 Motorway was built from the Larne Road Roundabout to Teeshan in 1969.

This small section creates serious problems for the farming community and agricultural contractors because tractors are not allowed on a motorway Councillor Tom Gordon

He said the initial plan was to have a motorway all the way from Belfast to the north Antrim coast "but as we all know that never happened and still hasn't happened".

Mr Gordon told the meeting a further section of the A26 was constructed as a dual carriageway from Teeshan to Glarryford in 1975 and other parts of the road were subsequently upgraded as dual carriageways.

"So we have the construction of six stages of dual carriageway all the way from Dunsilly to the Drones Road Roundabout - 24 miles - except for a small section in the middle from Teeshan to the Larne Road Roundabout as motorway which is four miles long.

"This small section creates serious problems for the farming community and agricultural contractors because tractors are not allowed on a motorway.

"Tractors coming from the Glarryford direction travel up the inside lane of the dual carriageway but as they approach Teeshan these slow moving vehicles have to move out to the fast lane, where speeds at and over 70mph occur, in order to exit the road and take a detour on roads which the bypass was designed to keep them off."

The councillor said the livestock market was previously situated where the Fairhill Shopping Centre is now in Ballymena and it was then held in Cullybackey and Ballyclare but is now in the Woodside Road Industrial Estate in Ballymena.

Seconding the motion, DUP councillor William McCaughey said he had been contacted by several farmers about the matter. He said the motorway was a "needless barrier" for the farming community, prohibiting access from one side of the town to the other.

Eugene Reid (SDLP) said farmers should be allowed to have easier access to the livestock market.

William McNeilly (Ulster Unionist) said he was a farmer and had been contacted by the Ulster Farmers' Union.

The councillor said a farmer told him it was a "nightmare" to cross on to the fast lane at Teeshan.

Please log in or register with belfasttelegraph.co.uk for free access to this article.

Already have an account?

Belfast Telegraph