Belfast Telegraph

Work on A1 cannot wait, insists MLA following latest accidents

By Allan Preston

Upgrades to the A1 road must be made "urgently" after two serious crashes in less than 24 hours, an MLA says.

Justin McNulty of the SDLP said it was too long to wait until 2021 to revamp the busy corridor between Sprucefield and Newry.

On Wednesday two people were taken to hospital following a crash near the city involving a car and a tanker.

The following morning the A1 was closed in both directions when a lorry toppled over near Sheepsbridge.

Crossing from northbound to southbound, the vehicle shed its load, hitting a another vehicle.

Raymond Halliday (87) and his stepdaughter Anna Dodds (47) died last October after a crash between a lorry and two cars on the A1.

And Karl Heaney (27) died in May when travelling home between Banbridge and Dromore following GAA training.

"We've had two major traffic accidents on the A1 this week alone," said Mr McNulty.

"Thankfully there were no fatalities on this occasion, but there have been too many lives lost on this stretch of road over recent years."

The Department for Infrastructure has long-term plans to improve safety, including the closure of central reservation crossings, new safety barriers, and the closure or upgrade of a number of junctions.

Mr McNulty added: "The upgrade works are essential and are welcome.

"However, the scheme is still at development stage with works not planned to commence until 2021. This is too long; we need a greater sense of urgency."

After Mr Heaney's death in May a petition was launched to demand works are completed on the road. It has been signed by nearly 11,400 people to date. The Department for Infrastructure said a "significant" amount of work had already progressed on the A1 Junctions Phase 2 road improvement scheme (15-mile stretch between Hillsborough and Loughbrickland).

This included a preliminary design, costings and draft environmental assessment report, it added.

"Progression to construction remains subject to clearing the statutory procedures and funding being made available to the department," it said.

"In advance of the main improvement scheme, the department has already closed up a number of gaps in the central reservation and installed central reserve safety barriers at three locations between Hillsborough and Loughbrickland over the last two years, totalling approximately five kilometres."

In the coming months the department also plans to install three sections of central reserve safety barrier at the Dromore bypass close to Hillsborough, it added.

Belfast Telegraph

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph