Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

Rural roads to benefit from multi-million pound investment

A multi-million pound investment to tackle repairs and maintenance of rural roads has been welcomed by local Sinn Fein representatives who say the funding must be spent in areas of greatest need and in particular, should address the “legacy of under-investment” in south Armagh.

Speaking on the financial boost announced by Minister for Finance Máirtín Ó Muilleoir, Megan Fearon MLA said “I’m delighted with the news that my colleague Sinn Féin Finance Minister Máirtín Ó Muilleoir has announced a £15m injection for structural roads maintenance as part of the October monitoring round.  This will be particularly welcome news in south Armagh where a legacy of under investment and mismanagement has left rural roads in an unacceptable state.”

She says her party has been working to ensure the people of south Armagh “get the rural infrastructure they deserve”, and this funding, coupled with £10m pledged by Infrastructure Minister Chris Hazzard and the doubling of Council’s Roads Maintenance budget, is proof of its commitment to that pledge.

“The overall £30m First Step Stimulus package announced by Minister Ó Muilleoir is also indicative of our approach to Government.  We intend to deliver for the people of Ireland and this package, which includes a Community Regeneration Fund as well as funding for ambulances, schools and LED street lighting, is just an early signal of our intent to deliver the long term economic stimulus that the north needs,” she added.

Her party colleague, Councillor Terry Hearty says he will “be keeping an eye” on how the extra investment is allocated to improving south Armagh roads.

Commenting following the recent presentation of Transport NI’s Southern Division Autumn Interim Report to the Council, he revealed that £1.4m of the £10m pledged by the Infrastructure Minister will be spent in south Armagh.

“I could rattle off a list of individual roads in the south Armagh area that badly need work done on them but the overall problem is that the rural roads in general need a lot of maintenance and repair,” Councillor Hearty said.

He drew attention to urgent projects he says should be examined by Transport NI, including the dangerous condition of Concession Road in Culloville to Ballinacarry Bridge; and the Cortreasla Road and Dundalk Road, both of which are highly susceptible to flooding.

Mr Hearty says the report contained some good news: “I have been informed that the 20mph speed limit we lobbied for outside Clonalig Primary School has been approved and will be active during pick up and drop off periods.

“Work on the Drumboy Road that we campaigned for is due to be completed this week and the major work being carried out on the B30 is underway,” he continued.  “The dangerous junction at Creggan Bridge from Donaldson’s Road onto the Newry Road is to have two ‘Bridge Narrow’ signs erected, which is to be welcomed but we argued that given the dangers there, further traffic calming measures would be necessary.

“Roads in south Armagh are a legacy issue that there is no quick fix for but Sinn Féin is working hard for the people of the area to get them the infrastructure they deserve,” he added.