The proposed bridge at the foot of the Bann – near Maghery – has been slammed as a “vanity project” that is not wanted by residents living on one side of the river.
DUP MP for Upper Bann, Carla Lockhart, has slammed Sinn Féin Minister for Infrastructure John O’Dowd for giving the green light into a feasibility study which would connect the Columbkille Road on one side and the Bannfoot Road on the other.
At present, while only 50 metres apart, it requires a 25-minute journey between the two points.
While many have welcomed the developments as a “hugely symbolic” connection between two communities, Ms Lockhart says the bridge is “not supported by the people living in the Charlestown area”.
“Minister O’Dowd would do well to sort out the chaos in his department and deal with the disgraceful roads in the Bannfoot area and not pursue vanity projects that are not supported by the people living in the Charlestown area,” she said.
“Not once have concerned residents been spoken to and just four years ago this was rejected by Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council.
“I along with Councillor Margaret Tinsley will be supporting residents in rejecting this proposal.”
Ms Lockhart said the whole proposal “beggars belief”.
She continued: “People in Charlestown cannot get an MOT to keep their car on the road. They despair at the state of the road infrastructure in the area.
“Residents would like greater access to public transport. All pressing issues that fall under the responsibility of John O’Dowd as Infrastructure Minister.
“Yet instead of prioritising these issues, and fixing the escalating mess within the department under his watch, the minister is instead focusing on feasibility for a bridge that is not wanted by the local community and for which there is absolutely no need.
“It is a Sinn Féin vanity project, and clearly one that the minister believes should be paid for by the taxpayer.
“People living at the Bannfoot would much prefer the minister invest money in addressing deficiencies in their local roads, instead of foisting a bridge upon the community for which there is no local support. This proposal has been rejected before, and must be rejected again.
“John O’Dowd needs to wise up, and spend his time fixing the problems within DfI, not use the department for self-indulgent projects that only Sinn Féin want.”
The feasibility study has been welcomed by the Alliance and SDLP.