REGIONAL Development Minister Danny Kennedy has set out Roads Service’s progress on investment totalling £5.1million for maintenance schemes in the Down District this year.
Speaking ahead of this evening’s meeting between Roads Service and Down District Council, the Minister said, “A wide range of improvement and maintenance schemes is underway or already complete in the Down District. This includes completion of a new footway on the Grand Jury Road, Saintfield. This scheme will improve safety for pedestrians at this location.
“The priorities and constraints placed on funding levels by Budget 2010 mean it is likely the programme of local transport and safety measures in 2012/13 and 2013/14 will be under considerable pressure.
“While current indications are that funding for resurfacing and minor improvement works will be very limited next year, I remain committed to delivering these important schemes as resources permit. The autumn round of Council meetings is a timely opportunity for Councils to discuss potential schemes and priorities for incoming and future years,” said Danny Kennedy.
At the meeting of the Down District Council External Affairs Committee, Divisional Roads Manager, Kevin Monaghan highlighted a number of improvement and maintenance schemes currently under construction and planned this year. He said, “I am pleased to note the introduction of gateway features in Maghera and Bryansford village.
“These schemes have provided enhanced signage and speed cushions and high friction surfacing within the area. In addition, resurfacing has been completed on the A2 Dundrum Road, Newcastle; A24 Crossgar Road, Saintfield and Ballyhornan village.”
Mr Monaghan also discussed his priority list of schemes planned for 2012/13 and onwards, which include improvement works on the Ardglass Road at Tobermoney and Collins Corner in Downpatrick. These schemes will aim to improve driver visibility and safety.”
But during the meeting Kevin Monaghan, Divisional Roads Service Manager was pressed over the issue of the Ballynahinch by-pass by Cllr Billy Walker who said, “The previous Minister Conor Murphy gave us an assurance that the Ballynahinch by-pass would be seriously looked at. We have been looking to get this done for 40 years. It is now time for action. Can you find out where the Minister is on this… it is not right to make statements like this unless they are to be carried through.”
Mr Monaghan replied saying that he understood that the current Minister was “mindful” of the arguments about the Ballynahinch by-pass. He also added that the by-pass was in the Preparation Pool of pending projects and could not be taken forward without Ministerial approval.
Cllr Eamonn O’Neill said, “There is cross party support over this issue. All of the councillors want to see this project go ahead. It is worrying that this important scheme could be in jeopardy. Therefore we all need to get our shoulders behind this problem and get it moving forward.”
A full description of the roads maintenance programme was delivered by Mr Monaghan. There was also plenty of discussion when it came to roads in bad weather and already he explained that the winter service had started. “There are 28 gritters across the Southern Division to met the demands of a freezing evening when it arises. The most important routes need to be agreed as we cannot cover all of the routes in the area. Down Council worked willingly with us last winter and I have just written to the Chief Executive John Dumigan on procedures for this winter.
“In relation to the question can community groups salt roads and pavements acting as agents of the Roads Service or Down Council, there are issues of public liability risk around this as the salting has to be done to a particular standard.”