Public meeting to be held in opposition to N53 closure

June 15, 2015

A public meeting is being organised in opposition to the closure of the N53 Dundalk to Castleblaney Road at Hackballscross later this summer.

Residents, commuters, farmers and businesses in several counties will all be affected by Louth County Council’s planned three month closure of the road set to take place from August this year to facilitate extensive roadworks at Hackballscross.

Local business owner Peter Finnegan, who has helped to organise the public meeting along with several other concerned business owners, residents, local TDs and councillors, spoke to The Examiner about the major disruption the road closure will cause for everyone living and working throughout the general South Monaghan, South Armagh and North Louth areas.

“The last time work like this took place on the road, it was kept open but now,instead of creating a slip road beside the works, a blanket three month closure will be in operation with traffic from County Monaghan diverting at Castleblaney or on to side roads towards Ballybinaby, Inniskeen, Kilkerley and Knockbridge,” he explained.

According to the shop owner, Louth County Council had previously informed local businesses and residents that the road would only need to close intermittently to facilitate certain works and that the planned three month closure was only revealed via a notice of intended works which appeared in local media last month. At a subsequent meeting between local businesses, councillors, TDs  and Louth County Council officials two weeks ago the proposed closure was confirmed “without compromise or prior consultation with businesses, farmers or residents.”

Mr Finnegan told us farmers in the area have serious concerns as the closure occurs during the busiest time of the farming year but agricultural machinery and heavy goods vehicles will not be permitted to travel along the road, and will be diverted, along with local transport and other traffic onto side roads which, he says, “are totally unsuitable for that volume and type of traffic.”

“This will result in serious long term damage to those roads so while Louth County Council are trying to minimise the cost on this project, there is going to be massive expenditure needed afterwards to repair the roads,” he said.

“Local residents on the side roads where thousands of vehicles will be diverted to are also going to be very badly affected. Businesses along the road from Culloville right through, which depend on passing traffic to keep their businesses open, will suffer very badly with this road closure,” he added.

Explaining the far reaching implications of the decision, Mr Finnegan said,

“This affects people from as far away as Donegal and Derry who travel through until they hit the motorway at Newtownbalregan to people in around Crossmaglen, Culloville and Castleblayney trying to get through to Dundalk.

“It will also have a serious effect on emergency services – ambulances, fire engines and gardai, with even the Garda station in Hackballlscross directly cut off from access.

“Absolutely none of this has been considered by Louth County Council. It seems like they have chosen to carry out the work as cheaply as possible rather than go to the expense of creating a slip road with the added cost of traffic lights, a one way system and increased insurance expenditure.

“They have given no thought to the 200 workers directly employed within a four and a half mile stretch of the road who stand to lose their jobs if the business from passing traffic is cut off for such a long period of time.”

Mr Finnegan added that the purpose of the public meeting is “to bring together as many representatives from various facets of life from the surrounding counties, to share how this road closure will affect them and gather support to approach Louth County Council and its as yet unappointed contractor and put pressure on them to implement a more reasonable plan.”

All interested parties are invited to attend the public meeting which will be held on Monday 22nd June at 8pm in Naomh Malachi  GFC, Courtbane.