An online petition calling for major improvements to a notorious county Armagh black spot has been set up.
The petition is urging the Department of Regional Development to take urgent action to sort out the problem at Ballyards on the Keady Road, Armagh.
This particular stretch of road saw three accidents on three consecutive days last week and has a history of bad accidents.
SDLP Councillor Thomas O’Hanlon said the road is a ‘death trap’ and has asked for an urgent meeting with Roads Minister Danny Kennedy MLA to push for real and urgent improvements.
“This week alone we have had three separate accidents on three consecutive days, with one local lady suffering quite serious injuries from one of the accidents,” said cllr O’Hanlon.
“Roads Service can no longer ignore the problem at Ballyards. Over recent years I have had countless correspondences with the various sections of Roads Service and one section keeps passing the buck to the next. I fear if we don’t see serious action taken soon there will be a fatal accident and then it will be too late.
“This is not just about speed, that stretch of road at Ballyards is a death trap. With the overhanging trees, that stretch of road never dries after the rain and, if it is a frosty morning, it takes ages for the road to thaw despite being gritted.
“We need to see a serious piece of work done at this location. Signage is not enough; we need to see the road realigned and measures put in place to try and stop these accidents.
“Local residents living along the road fear a knock at the door at night as motorists who have been involved in an accident appeal for help; they just don’t know what they are going to face.
“I’m not alone in calling for urgent action. This week I have spoken with representatives of the police, fire and ambulance service and they all fear what they will be called to next at this location.
“Just go along the road and see the hedge is littered with bumpers and car mirrors where cars have entered the hedge.
“This week I have been inundated with calls, texts and emails from local residents and motorists alike and they are pleading for something to be done. I’ve also spoken with family members of some of those involved in this week’s accidents and they are horrified that there still has been nothing done to try and improve this road.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with them and their loved ones as they make a recovery from their injuries.
“This week I have written to DRD Minister Danny Kennedy asking for an urgent meeting on site. We need to see real and urgent action taken before someone is killed at this location and I hope that, with his involvement, we will get something done.”
Cathal Boylan MLA and Sinn Féin Road Safety spokesperson has added his voice to growing community demands for a road improvement scheme in this area.
“That there has been a recent spate of accidents on the road is of deep concern and worry however unfortunately for many people who travel the road regularly, it will not come as a total surprise,” said cllr Boylan.
“My thoughts are with those people and families who have been caught up in the recent accidents and especially for one of the casualties who I understand remains in hospital.
“Regrettably this has an all too familiar feel; the Keady Road has unfortunately seen more than its fair share of tragedy.
“Whilst previously lobbied for road improvement initiatives have helped address some of the accident black spots along the road, such as at the junctions with the Tassagh and Newtownhamilton Roads, some parts of the road remain very dangerous with tight twisting turns and often slippery surfaces at this time of the year.
“It is now imperative that the responsible Minster listens to the local community and representitives in their calls for immediate action on this issue before tragedy strikes again. I will be continuing in my efforts to make this a road safety priority.”