A story on traffic and delays in Armagh is hardly something new.
A look back through our own archives gives you enough evidence to that fact but this week there seems to have been something different in the air.
Here at Armagh I, we have readers contact us about many issues (we try our best to look into them and provide an answer when we can) and when the first photo came through illustrating the traffic flow – or lack thereof – around the ring road, leading onto the Friary Road, we thought it just another early morning rush. In Armagh, that’s a certainty.
Only it wasn’t – it was 10am. Most people would be enjoying their first break at this stage of the day .
We put it on the to-do pile. We never seem to get to the bottom of that.
The next day, another message. A screenshot. 9.27am. A motorist backed out near the Eurospar on the Monaghan Road. ‘Oh that’s bad,’ was the initial thought, but not something this writer is wholly unfamiliar with.
But the nearby Christian Brothers School would have already had their roll call. This wasn’t the reason for this particular drag.
A third and fourth and fifth message filtered through, not all with photos, not all with complaints, but questions as to why there were these delays.
Why was this week any different to the rest of the weeks? This is nothing new, we thought. But it was.
Several asked was there a problem with the lights on the Friary Road at the turn-off up to the Palace Demesne. Officially, no. But quite evidently there is.
Traffic flow towards Newry, Dungannon, and Belfast after those lights lessened – significantly. Coming in to the city from those directions though, not so much.
Four years ago, we did a story on this very issue. You read that here. Clearly the issue hasn’t gone away.
SDLP councillor Thomas O’Hanlon was the person who questioned the lay-out then. Nothing changed – we can put that down to bureaucracy. So we asked him again, what on earth is going to be done here?
Councillor O’Hanlon – one of those many road sufferers – is re-iterating his call for action.
“No matter what road you approach the city from it’s the same,” he said. “This last few weeks things seem to have suddenly taken a turn for the worse, it’s just a nightmare.
“Almost four years ago Roads Service introduced new laneways on the Friary Road at the entrance to the Council Offices and then I called it for what it was, a disaster.
“At the time, I warned the system would only add to the city’s traffic problems and called for a fundamental review of the system almost as soon as it was complete.
“We were asked at the time to give the new system a chance to bed in and also to allow for the works to be completed at the bottom of the Newry Road. Well we have given it ample time to bed in and the results are still the same.”
He added: “Try and get through Armagh any morning from 7.30-10am and it’s a nightmare. It used to be just around school starting times, but is not much earlier as motorists try to beat the traffic and is running much latter up to 10am.
“The Keady Road is backed up to the junction with the Newtownhamilton Road, Monaghan Road out to Umgola; the Killylea Road out to Saint Patrick’s Park, the Newry Road is out beyond the junction to Ardmore and the Moy Road is almost out as far as the Drumcarin Road.
“It’s no joke, in fact it’s a nightmare for any motorist, and trying to cross the city in the evening time is just the same, a nightmare.”
Councillor O’Hanlon said he regularly travels to Craigavon and Belfast for early morning meetings, and the most infuriating and slowest part of the journey is from the Keady Road, Armagh to Portadown.
“Armagh City is bad and the Armagh to Portadown Road is a very close second,” he slammed.
“We need a fundamental review of the traffic system on the Friary – Ring Road in Armagh City, we need to establish if any improvements can be made to aid traffic flow.
“We also need certainty around when we will see movement on the proposed Armagh East and West Link Roads and we need to establish what improvements, such as additional climbing lanes, on the Armagh to Portadown Road can be made to reduce congestion on that road.
“Armagh is a vibrant small city, but its potential is endless if we could only get the roads network sorted. For far too long Stormont had fobbed us off, each Roads Minister has been the same, well maybe now the Civil Servants are in charge and ministers have been dispensed with we might make progress.
“I have written to Transport NI on all these issues and hope we will see progress very soon.”