Link road to ease congestion to top forthcoming talk

Link road to ease congestion to top forthcoming talk

7 February 2018

THE provision of a major new road designed to ease town centre traffic congestion in Downpatrick is to top the agenda at an upcoming meeting with a senior government official.

A delegation of Newry, Mourne and Down councillors is to meet with Mr Peter May, Permanent Secretary at the 

Department for Infrastructure, to discuss the construction of the so-called eastern distributor road — linking the Belfast and Ballyhornan roads in the town.

The Department recently commissioned a consultants’ report into the feasibility of the proposed road, which planners insist must be built by developers and is one of the key planks of the area plan which outlines the future development of the district.

The report examined the feasibility and deliverability of the proposed link road and is understood to include an assessment of existing and future traffic issues in the area, based on current traffic patterns and projected developments.

Councillors were told this week that, having reviewed and discussed the findings of the feasibility study, roads officials have asked for additional information in relation to the impact of possible future land development in the area.

In December, Newry, Mourne and Down Council weighed in with its support for the proposed new road which councillors are keen to see progressed to help tackle town centre congestion, believing it has the potential to transform the town and help accommodate major new housing developments.

Confirmation that a local authority delegation is to meet with Mr May and the area’s most senior roads official, Mr Simon Richardson, came at Monday night’s meeting of Newry, Mourne and Down Council.

The news has been welcomed by Downpatrick SDLP councillors Dermot Curran, Gareth Sharvin and John Trainor.

Cllr Curran said some of the main issues which had to be addressed was the potential cost of the proposed new road, its exact route and who will be responsible for its finance. He said government officials needed to confirm if they wee prepared to make any financial contribution.

Cllr Sharvin said politicians had been lobbying for the new road over a number of years.

“The findings of the consultants’ report have been reviewed and they have been asked to provide additional information,” he continued.

“The Department for Infrastructure is being proactive by ensuring that all possibilities are considered and that potential outcomes have considered all traffic models available for the development of the land.”

Cllr Trainor said it was “encouraging” that the Permanent Secretary had listened to the representations made by councillors and had tasked officials to provide additional information.

“The latest correspondence from the Department for Infrastructure should be seen as positive. The SDLP will continue to put pressure on officials with regard this and other infrastructure projects in the wider Lecale area,” he continued.

“I have asked that the findings of the consultants’ report be shared with local councillors to ensure we are informed about the up-to-date situation ahead of the meeting with Mr May and his officials.”

Cllr Trainor added: “This is a positive first step in the realisation of the eastern distributor road and it is important the scheme is delivered.”