Serious underinvestment in roads…

The same kind of interval speed check cameras (subs needed) that have been operating on the Gretna – Stranraer stretch of road in Scotland is to be used on the Newry – Belfast road in order to cut speed and thus the high rate of road deaths on the A1 dual carriageway. Conor Murphy however complains that road budgets have been cut under direct rule ministers and that it is under investment in the actual roads themselves that accounts for fatalities. Another substantial cost of the local absence of devolution?

Adds: We’ve just received the following from Billy Bell, UUP MLA for Lagan Valley:Billy Bell said today that the latest fatality of the A1 central reservation reinforced once again the total inadequacy of the A1 as a road and its inherent, inbuilt dangerous nature.

“The A1 has just had too many fatalities and this latest death is another sad name added to this sorry litany of human suffering. My heartfelt sympathy goes out to the bereaved family. The best memorial we could erect to the numerous people who have died on that dreadful road is to radically re-examine the whole purpose and design of that highway of death.”

“Dual carriageways are no substitute for proper motorways. They mix traffic that just should not be mixed. The central reservation of the A1 is a death-trap. Slow moving local traffic and fast moving trunk traffic should not be mixed together. It is a cocktail of death,” said the MLA.

“When you compare this decision to build the Irish Republic’s new 52-mile motorway from Dundalk to Dublin, with the decision that the A1 north of the border will only be upgraded only to dual carriageway, it speaks volumes about the lack of proper strategic management of the roads service in Northern Ireland. There appears to be a lack of vision.”

“Throughout Europe there is a frenzy of road building, especially in the new emerging states of eastern Europe. They have enough sense to appreciate the economic value of motorways. I have just returned from Slovenia where an impressive system of new roads are being built incorporating tunnels through mountain passes and incredible feats of engineering.”

“Northern Ireland is suffering because during the thirty year direct rule period the principle of subsidiarity starved the Province of much European money which would otherwise have built a modern road infrastructure. We must ensure that in any political settlement, any money lost through the practice of subsidiarity is returned to Northern Ireland. Any political settlement must have an infrastructural aspect and surely a motorway from Lisburn – Sprucefield to the border must be at the head of the list.”

“This decision to have no more motorways will do irreparable damage to the efforts by DETI, INI and others to attract inward investment. It will really be a major turn – off to foreign investors. A motorway from Lisburn – Sprucefield to the border must be built to link to the Republic’s new M1 so that the prosperity of the Dublin economic coastal corridor can be exported North. Town after town has boomed with the advance of the motorway to the north – first Drogheda, then Dundalk. If the motorway were extended that list could also include Newry, Banbridge, Craigavon, Libsurn and Belfast.”

“The sooner the Assembly is back and a local Minister is in charge of the strategic planning of the major strategic road systems here, the sooner we will get some common sense back into this situation. This decision by DRD to stop all motorway building until after 2015 is the sort of short sighted behaviour you get when a civil service is running out of control – as it is here. The Direct Rule Ministers have no grip on this situation. We need to guarantee the Province’s economic future with strategically located motorways, with a new motorway from the border to Lisburn an absolute priority,”

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty