Traders claim 70% hit to takings over roadworks on busy city arterial route
A trader along a main route into Londonderry has slammed a month-long road improvement scheme he claims has cost some local retailers 70% of their revenues.
The £161,000 resurfacing and reconstruction scheme started on Racecourse Road on July 23 and is scheduled for completion on August 25.
However, a business owner said he was frustrated over the time scale of the Department for Infrastructure works.
John Crossan, who owns Crossan's sports shop, said the improvements, while welcome and necessary, should have been worked on outside trading hours.
He said: "This work started in July and the first I knew about it was when I came to open my shop and saw the men there with all the machinery.
"None of the rest of the traders had been informed either, which I think is something that the department could have done - putting a notice on a website is of no use to me.
"Some of the traders here are fast food businesses who don't open until after 4pm, so it doesn't impact on them as much, but for the rest of us, our trade has dropped by as much as 70%.
"My own business hasn't been affected that badly but some have been, and I just wonder if we were traders in Belfast would we have had to put up with this level of disruption for this long, because I don't believe they would."
Mr Crossan claimed that roadworks carried out on nearby Strand Road were restricted from 7pm to 7am, and the project was completed in a quarter of the time this is taking.
He added: "The most frustrating thing of all is having to look out at a road closed off to traffic and not one person working on it.
"That has happened numerous days, last weekend being a case in point when on Friday the road was totally closed, but there wasn't a being working.
"I know this work has to be done but the days when nothing is being done and we are still losing trade are soul-destroying.
"When I have talked to the men on the project they say 'it is finishing on Friday', then someone different says 'it is going to be Monday or Tuesday', so as far as I can see no one knows how long this is going to go on.
"Meanwhile, takings are down and we don't know if there is a compensation scheme because it is impossible to get through to anyone in the department."
A full road closure is now in operation until Tuesday, and according to the Department for Infrastructure website, a diversionary route will operate via the Buncrana Road, Culmore Road and Greenhaw Road.
It said: "The department has carefully programmed the work operations and traffic management arrangements in order to minimise any inconvenience to the public. However, some disruption can be expected for the duration of the scheme and road users should allow additional time when planning any journeys.
"Subject to favourable weather conditions, the works is expected to be completed by the end of August.
"However, the department will keep the public informed of any change."