Upgrade planned but Dromore’s Church Street crossing to stay put

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There was a cautious welcome this week for news of a planned upgrade to Dromore’s Church Street zebra-crossing, but long after its relocation it remains a sore point for some locals.

Work is to be undertaken to make the crossing more visible but there’s no comfort for those residents who continue to lament its move from one part of Church Street to another.

The transplant from its location near Market Square to its present position closer to the former Northern Bank was undertaken chiefly because of the crossing’s proximity to the then newly-installed pelican-crossing in the Square.

It is a bone of contention locals continue to chew over at meetings of various public interest groups.

“Many people would contend that the crossing should never have been relocated from its original position several years ago,” said Dromore Councillor Paul Rankin.

“However, despite lobbying from elected representatives, there remains a reluctance from Transport NI to relocate the crossing again, with Roads criteria over the distance from traffic lights one factor.”

What is in the pipeline - hopefully within the current financial year, according to a Transport NI (formerly DRD Roads) thus far hampered by “procurement issues” - is a comparatively minor upgrade to address concerns over poor visibility.

It’s understood that beacons - effectively hidden up against shop walls, according to some - are to have their black and white poles changed out for more conspicuous internal illumination in tandem with a renewal of road markings in and around the crossing.

“Some people are just driving on over the crossing without stopping at all,” said Mr Rankin, revisiting a longstanding complaint.

Transport NI advised Mr Rankin, ahead of presenting its autumn report to Banbridge District Council last night (Monday) that there had been “difficulties in procuring the equipment necessary for the upgrade of this crossing”.

These difficulties, they said, were now being overcome, and, while exact dates were not yet known, it was planned to complete the work within the next few months.

It’s understood the road markings in Church Street are scheduled to be renewed by the end of this month.

“I welcome this update,” said Mr Rankin. “Local people have raised the issue of the Church Street pedestrian crossing with myself, as a local councillor, and also with Lagan Valley MLA Mrs Brenda Hale’s office.

“We have been laising with Roads Service and hope that in the next few months the pedestrian crossing will be upgraded, making it more visible to the motorist and safer for the pedestrian.

“We also welcome news that the road markings are to be renewed in Church Street.”