Urgent need to improve safety on A1
Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon has said she is committed to improving the safety of the A1 dual carriageway.
Her comments come after Upper Bann MLA Diane Dodds called for a firm date for work to begin in the Banbridge area.
Mrs Dodds acknowledged that the minister has regard to the safety concerns of residents and relatives of those who have tragically lost their lives along the A1.
She said: “I know that the minister is committed to the A1 improvement and has met with families of those who have lost their lives. But residents and families of those who have tragically died deserve more. We need a firm start date to this project in Banbridge. These improvements cannot be delayed further.
“Although I welcome the minister’s announcement that she has included the A1 improvement scheme in the three-year spending review, we need a firm commitment to ensure safety along the A1 and that no more lives are lost.”
Lord Mayor of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Alderman Glenn Barr said he and his UUP colleagues would continue to fight for the road safety improvements and questioned why Mrs Dodds did not raise the issue when she was a member of the Executive.
“The Ulster Unionist Party has been lobbying for this to happen for years and I welcome Diane Dodds MLA 11th hour support to the ever needed safety precautions on the A1,” said Mr Barr. “When Mrs Dodds sat at the Executive table, why did she not raise this with her ministerial colleague? Why wait until now?
“Far too many people have tragically lost their lives along this stretch of road or had their lives impacted through the death of a loved one or have suffered terrible life-changing injuries; both physical and psychological.
“My Ulster Unionist colleagues and myself will continue to fight for the A1 safety improvements to happen and I hope that this happens soon rather than later.”
Allaince Councillor Sorcha Eastwood also backed the call for improvements, saying; “The A1 dual carriageway is a crucial transport link and arterial route that is the main link between Belfast & Dublin and despite that key role, this road has been consistently overlooked for improvements over the years- the public inquiry was completed some time ago and the Inspector’s report published at the start of the year, it is now time for action from the Minister on this; it is simply not good enough to make slow and incremental progress- this is a busy and sadly dangerous road that has impacted on many families through the years.
“The economic appraisal for this project should have been concluded before now to enable tendering and other preliminary work to take place as a priority and we have tabled an Assembly question to the Minister asking for an update on the A1 scheme and key milestones envisaged.
“We must see urgent progress on this issue, not just for Lagan Valley, but for Northern Ireland.”
Responding to the call for urgent action, the Minister said: “I am very aware of how important the A1 improvements are for all those who have lost loved ones or incurred injuries during incidents as well as the many people who have expressed their support for the scheme.
“I am pleased to report that good progress continues to be made on the A1 Junctions Phase 2 Road Improvement Scheme. The Statutory Orders for the scheme have been made with the Direction Order coming into operation on 16 July 2021 and the Stopping Up (of Private Accesses) on 24 July 2021. Work is ongoing on the preparation of an economic appraisal for the scheme. The next step would then be the commencement of the procurement phase, including the preparation of contract documents.
“I am fully committed to progressing this project at pace and I will be in a position to consider the next steps following the completion of the economic appraisal and consideration of my competing priorities following the outcome of Spending Review 2021 from which budget baselines will be set for future years.” ructure said: “