Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

Crash prompts call for road safety measures

The photograph (below) depicts the scene on the Cold Brae Road in Belleek last Sunday morning (18th January) when the driver of a jeep narrowly escaped serious injury after the vehicle plunged down the steep embankment that edges the narrow country road.

A concerned resident, who lives close to the scene of the accident, contacted The Examiner in a bid to highlight what he described as “the latest in a series of near misses”, which have occurred along the road in recent years.

Describing the road as “highly treacherous”, the man said a number of vehicles have ended up in the bog-like trenches, some of which are 10ft deep, that run along both sides of the road and he insists it’s “a miracle” that no-one has been killed.

He cited a particular incident two years ago when a digger skimmed the ditch in foggy conditions and toppled over, seriously injuring the driver.

The man claims that local residents and councillors met with Roads Service officials a number of years ago and it was agreed that action needed to be taken to address the hazardous state of the notoriously unsafe road.

“Nothing has happened since then,” he remarked.  “There have been several accidents here in recent years and we’re now asking does someone have to be killed on this road before something will be done about it? The farmer who owns the field adjacent to the road has offered his land to the DOE to do whatever is necessary to make the road safe,” he revealed.

“I believe that Forestry officials have also made it clear that they have no issue with the forest side of the road being encroached on for repairs or whatever needs done.”

Sinn Fein councillor Barra Ó Muirí has pledged to liaise with Roads Service after surveying the dangerous condition of the road for himself.

Speaking to The Examiner, Councillor Ó Muirí said the condition of the road is a serious concern.

“During the frost, part of the road wore away, this led to an incident last weekend where a jeep overturned off the road.  I share the fear of many locals that it is only a matter of time before someone is seriously hurt on this road, unless action is taken by Roads Service,” he said.

The councillor says he has invited Roads Service officials to a site meeting “to discuss the safety fears and to agree a way forward”.

In response to the requests for action, a TransportNI spokesperson said the Department is “willing to consider representation on this matter, including meeting with local residents or local elected representatives”.