A petition has now been launched in the next step on a campaign to provide a safe road crossing – preferably an overhead bridge – between Markethill and Gosford.
Armagh I reported on Friday how a 12-year-0ld schoolboy had written to Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council asking for councillors to intervene and do all they could to make it happen.
Rhys Ryans, who attends Markethill High School, says he and his friends and other children around the town want to enjoy what is being made available to them on their doorstep through the multi-million pound redevelopment at the forest park.
Rhys wrote: “This main road is very scary trying to cross it and my mates and I would love to go over to the forest park to get the benefits out of it on our bikes but we can’t because of the continuous traffic on this main road.
“As anyone knows the Gosford Forest Park is a big temptation for us kids and nobody wants to hear of any kids being killed by traffic trying to get some recreational use going to Gosford Forest Park or coming from it.”
Rhys’ mum Simone started the petition as the next step and has been overwhelmed by the response.
She told Armagh I : “It had only been up for an hour and 50 people had signed it and it’s been shared flat out.
“I also hope to get petitions in the local shops and even go door to door.”
The petition demands the council and the powers-that-be provide: “Access to Gosford Forest Park for the local community so that it is a safe passage for children, elderly and all, so they can avail of the facility that the council has promoted for health and recreation.”
When we ran our story on Friday night everybody was backng Rhys and family and friends in their calls.
A grateful Simone encouraged all to take the time to sign the petition and added: “When we have enough signatures Rhys will present it to Mr Roger Willson, chief executive of ABC Council.
“As a mum, it’s scary because my son loves the park and he and his friends are scared to cross the road, and the temptation for Gosford and its bicycle tracks are great, so I understand fully their desire to make that treacherous crossing but the danger is just too much.”
Among those already backing the calls are DUP Councillor Gareth Wilson, Independent Unionist Paul Berry and Ulster Unionist Jim Speers.
Alderman Wilson – who congratulated Simone and Rhys on their efforts – said: “I am an advocate of a bridge and have raised this a number of times with the Department for Infrastructure.
“This petition is timely and will help push this issue up the agenda.
“With the plans continuing to transform Gosford Forest Park a bridge would massively help in allowing safer passage for kids and any pedestrians from the town side to the forest.”
People can lend their voices to the campaign and show their support by signing. Simply click on the petition link here and add your name.