Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

Roads officials “must not repeat mistakes of the past”

Sinn Féin councillor Terry Hearty has warned Transport NI that it must not “repeat the mistakes of the past” and should tackle issues as they arise before they become a major problem.

Speaking after the Roads Authority presented its annual report to Newry, Mourne and Down District Council, Mr Hearty says it is deeply disappointing that already delayed crucial minor work schemes are being further postponed, a move, he says, that will lead to minor projects becoming major problems.

“While they may not appear very important to those pinching pennies and cutting corners in the Transport NI office, they are crucial to the communities we represent,” Councillor Hearty said.

“They also revealed that the road verge and cleaning of gullies would only take place once this year and that only potholes over a certain size would be fixed.  Have they learned nothing from the disastrous term of Danny Kennedy as Roads Minister? You may make small savings in the immediate term by neglecting these basic maintenance services, but they cost you hugely down the line as roads become almost unusable and need wholesale replacement.  Continuing with this lack of long-term planning will certainly undo the good work and investment achieved by Chris Hazzard as Minister for Infrastructure, and will have a massive impact on local roads,” he warned.

The councillor says such road issues are not purely cosmetic and failure to keep up basic maintenance puts lives at risk, especially in rural areas as road junctions are already blind and dangerous from over grown grass.

“Pedestrians and cyclists are forced to move out into the middle of the roads to get around puddles and damaged surfaces. Drivers have to swerve to avoid damaging their cars on potholes while water running onto the roads due to gullies not being cleaned turns to ice in the winter months,” he said, adding that he has also requested for weeds to be sprayed as soon as possible before they become out of control.

“Our Council has made tourism a priority, investing huge amounts of money in it and I would ask that Road Service consider this when implementing such reckless measures.  With a little bit of foresight Transport NI could make huge savings on tackling issues before they become major problems. They must learn from the mistakes of the past.”