ROWALLANE politician Robert Burgess has called for funding to be earmarked for a major upgrade of the main road linking Crossgar with Saintfield.
Various sections of the busy A7 have been upgraded over recent years with design work on a £2m scheme to upgrade a section between Doran’s Rock and the entrance to Rowallane Garden now substantially complete.
Work on an environmental assessment of the proposed scheme has also been completed, but before any work can start, Transport NI needs to acquire land along the proposed route.
Much of the land it requires is agricultural, but roads officials have indicated some will be required from residential owners which could necessitate vesting orders to be issued to secure the land.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Infrastructure confirmed this week that a series of meetings with landowners affected by the scheme will be arranged over the coming months to discuss the extent of land required.
“The next stage of development work will include taking the proposal through the statutory procedures,” she continued. “Progression of the scheme remains subject to the clearing of these statutory procedures and funding being made available to the Department.”
Councillor Burgess said he, along with the thousands of motorists who use the busy A7 each day, are eager to see work on the proposed improvement scheme getting underway.
He said it was his understanding that work on the scheme could be carried out in stages and hopes funding to allow the scheme to progress can be identified.
“People who travel this road every day will be acutely aware of the huge volume of traffic it carries. The section between the entrance to Rowallane Garden and Doran’s Rock needs to be brought up to standard to ensure it complies with modern safety standards. It is not only one of the district’s busiest roads, but one of the busiest in Northern Ireland,” continued Councillor Burgess.
“Various sections of the road have been upgraded over recent years and it now important that work on the last remaining piece of the development jigsaw is completed.”
Councillor Burgess said he hopes negotiations to secure the land required to upgrade the road can be secured and that once this process has concluded, the money to allow contractors on site will be made immediately available.