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Newry, Mourne and Down District Council members have been updated by the Department for Infrastructure on road maintenance, improvement works and active travel schemes in 2020/21 and those planned for 2021/22.

A major project affecting Newry is the Southern Relief Road, one of three infrastructure projects being forwarded in partnership with the Belfast Region City Deal. The current stage of the project involves developing the design of the road and preparing draft Statutory Orders along with and Environmental Impact Assessment Report in advance of statutory public consultation. At present Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon is considering whether the route involves an opening bridge or a fixed bridge over Newry Ship Canal. A fixed bridge would spell the end of access for ships  to the Albert Basin in Newry.

Speaking as he addressed Council members last week, Divisional Roads Manager, Mr Mark McPeak said: “The 2020/21 year was unprecedented due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, we worked closely with our contractors to develop new working practices to ensure that much needed road maintenance and improvement works could proceed and as a result most of our 2020/21 programme was successfully delivered despite the absence of work over the first part of the year.

“During the year a number of significant resurfacing schemes have been completed including the A25 Dublin Road (Phase 1 and Phase 2) in Castlewellan, the A21 Saintfield Road in Ballynahinch, and the A2 Warrenpoint Road dual carriageway.

“Minister Mallon is committed to the delivery of active travel schemes across the north and to making walking and cycling a safer and more attractive option for people getting around. As a result of £1.1m from the Minister’s Blue/Green Fund, we will be progressing a number of active travel schemes in the 2021/22 year involving the construction of a number of shared footway/cycleways. Schemes include 2km of shared footway/cycleway on the A28 Carbane Way / Craigmore Way in Newry, 1.6km (of 4.4km) as a first phase on the A50 Castlewellan to Newcastle road and 1.4km (of 2.8km) as a first phase on the A2 Clough to Dundrum road.

“In the 2020/21 financial year, Minister Mallon announced the roll out of new part-time 20mph speed limit schemes at 103 schools across Northern Ireland and I am pleased to confirm that 12 schools across the Newry, Mourne and Down area are in the process of benefitting from this programme. It is the Minister’s intention to take forward a further tranche of part-time 20mph speed limits at schools and all schools in the Newry, Mourne and Down area are being assessed and prioritised to inform the 2021/22 programme.”

Continuing Mr McPeak said: “The Minister recognises the importance of street lighting and allocated sufficient funding to ensure a full repair service was delivered in the full 2020/21 year; the Minister has again allocated sufficient funding this year to maintain this level of service.  Total expenditure on street lighting during the 2020/21 year amounted to approximately £2m and included both full system replacement schemes and energy efficient LED lantern schemes. Among the areas that received LED lighting were Main Street in Killough, Main Street in Newcastle and A2 Newry Road in Warrenpoint.

“My staff will continue to develop local transport and safety schemes and maintenance programmes to enhance safety, improve traffic progression and provide measures for pedestrians and cyclists.”

Concluding Mr McPeak said: “Development of the A24 Ballynahinch Bypass has progressed with the Direction Order coming into effect on 16 July 2021. With regard to the Newry Southern Relief Road, the Department has recently been provided with a report from Newry, Mourne and Down District Council giving consideration to the bridge type over the Newry Ship Canal which includes an assessment of economic benefits.”


Slieve Gullion Councillor, Aoife Finnegan spoke to DFI officials of her disappointment at the report.

Cllr Finnegan said “A disappointing report was tabled this evening with little mention of the Crossmaglen area where works are either untouched or incomplete with excuse after excuse. Enough is enough”.

Cllr Aoife Finnegan
Cllr Aoife Finnegan

The Slieve Gullion Councillor raised particular concerns about Crossmaglen, Culloville and the surrounding areas which had been allowed to fall into a dangerous state of disrepair to the extent that some of them are simply impassable with some people having injured themselves even walking on footpaths that are now in dangerous states of neglect. 

Cllr Finnegan concluded "There has been absolutely no response by the roads service to many of these reports. With no means of resolving these issues in sight, it has left residents angry and frustrated and I am echoing their demands for immediate action. 

"The way in which the roads service have handled our area is simply unacceptable and South Armagh deserves better."

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