Politicians call for road safety assessment following accident

Politicians call for road safety assessment following accident

14 July 2021

POLITICIANS are calling for a safety assessment to be carried out at the Blackstaff Road in Clough following a recent serious accident.

Residents lobbied South Down MP Chris Hazzard and Slieve Croob councillor Alan Lewis after a 40 year-old motorcyclist was critically injured after he crashed into a fence on June 20.

Police closed the road for several hours in order to carry out investigations and have appealed for information to assist them with their enquiries.

Blackstaff Road resident, Judith Wainwright, claims she has been asking for something to be done about the road for 20 years. She has lived in the area for three decades with the recent accident happening outside her home.

“I have raised the issue about the road from 2010 with the former DoE Roads Service and more recently in 2017 with the Department of Infrastructure,” said Judith.

“I was told at one point there was insufficient levels of traffic on the road to warrant any measures but the point is vehicles travel too fast on the road and a lot of people who use it don’t know the road and how it twists and bends. I would like to see either the speed level reduced and other speed mitigation measures.”

Mr Hazzard met Judith and other concerned residents in Clough on Monday and has asked roads officials to conduct a safety assessment of the road, including engaging with residents who have grown increasingly worried for their safety. 

“The Blackstaff Road along the Mourne Coastal Route between Clough and Ballykinlar is heavily trafficked and vehicles regularly drive at a speed much too fast considering the winding, rural nature of the road layout,” he continued.

“It is no surprise that road traffic collisions continue to be a problem in this area. In the last few weeks the Air Ambulance was called to the area and the bridge over the Blackstaff River at the Ballyrolly Road junction suffered significant structural damage in a separate collision.”

Mr Hazzard acknowledged that with HGVs and agricultural vehicles regularly using the road, residents were often in fear of walking along the Blackstaff Road as there are many tight pinch-points where large vehicles passing make it practically impossible to walk safely. 

“It would certainly appear that upgraded warning signage and road markings would be a welcome addition to the Blackstaff Road. Hopefully, DFI Roads will also consider the possibility of engineering some of these risks out of the road by looking at ways to improve visibility and help reduce the ability to drive at speed along it at speed.”

Cllr Lewis has also requested a meeting between roads officials and police to discuss safety concerns raised by Blackstaff Road residents.

“There are issues with pedestrian safety and the persistent and increasing speed of vehicles,” he said. “Residents have persistently raised their concerns which seem to have fallen on deaf ears. Increasing accidents and near misses have demonstrated the need for these concerns to be taken seriously.”

Cllr Lewis added: “Recent upgrade works which improved the surface of the road have encouraged drivers to increase their speed without fear of ploughing into a pothole. 

“However, the real danger is that they may hit a pedestrian or cyclist instead. There are blind corners, obstructed sight lines, overgrown hedges and other issues which are adding to the danger of this road.”