Residents oppose upgrade of Belfast-Newry road


Plans to upgrade part of the main road between Belfast and Newry have run into opposition from some residents.

Concerns about local access and the "elimination" of bus stops were raised during a recently published community consultation by the Infrastructure Department.

Fears a travellers' site could be created if a gap on the central reservation was totally closed on the A1 in Co Down and the plight of cyclists were also highlighted.

Sealing all openings in the reserve between Hillsborough roundabout and Loughbrickland is proposed for road safety reasons and much of the feedback was positive.

But one response to the consultation document published by the Infrastructure Department said: "I use the current crossings several times daily without problems - proposals would mean longish detours."

Another said proposed changes would "severely" affect a farm business with land on both sides of the road.

One said: "Most of this list is generalised - reference to 'selected' side roads, rather than identifying them, and to 'rationalisation' of bus stops, when what is proposed is their elimination."

Another claimed: "No consideration given to alternative transport modes - the A1 route is a hostile environment for pedestrians and cyclists."

Concerns were also articulated about parking in the evening and night in close proximity to family homes  and the potential for anti-social behaviour.

One claimed the changes would put slow agricultural traffic and large delivery vehicles on the road for longer times and distances.

Another said: "If gap 16 is totally closed it will leave a cul-de-sac with a large green area which could be a potential traveller site."

Only eight people said they did not agree with any aspect of the proposals, with five of them also opposed to the development in principle.

The Infrastructure Department said it was proposing further road improvements along the 25-kilometre route from Hillsborough roundabout to Loughbrickland.

It added: "This stretch of carriageway was designed and constructed to older highway standards, some sections up to 40 years ago.

"As such, it has characteristics that are no longer considered desirable and which are presenting safety issues.

"In particular there are a significant number of at-grade crossings and access points onto the carriageway, which are coupled with sections of poor horizontal alignment, vertical alignment, visibility and narrow central reserve."