A1 Road Improvement Scheme gets its Public Inquiry date

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A Public Inquiry on the A1 Junctions Phase 2 Strategic Road Improvement Scheme will begin on March 11 at 10am in the Belmont House Hotel, Banbridge.

In June 2019 the Department concluded its consultation on the draft Statutory Orders and an Environmental Impact Assessment Report for the above strategic road improvement scheme.

There were more than 100 responses received and, while the majority were in support of the scheme, a number of objections from landowners and others were also submitted. The Department was unable to resolve the issues raised and subsequently concluded a Public Inquiry was needed to enable the scheme to progress to the next stage.

Welcoming the inquiry, Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon said: “I am very aware how important the A1 improvements are for the many people who have expressed their support, especially those who have lost loved ones. While my department must of course complete all of the necessary statutory processes, I want particularly to reassure those families who have long awaited these improvements that we are keen to progress to the next stage as quickly as possible.”

The Inspector for the Inquiry has arranged for a pre-inquiry meeting starting at 7pm on February 6 2020 in the Belmont House Hotel.

Alliance Councillor Brian Pope also has welcomed the news of the public inquiry on improvements to the A1 having pushed for increased safety on the road after a series of deaths and other accidents.

“I wish the new Minister Nichola Mallon well in her role and I know her in-tray will include many high profile projects. But it is critical the proposed A1 improvement works are made a priority, after a series of tragic recent accidents there,” he said.

“It is certainly positive the Minister has announced the commencement of the public inquiry into improvements but it is vitally important we also have the immediate installation of urgent road safety measures to ensure increased safety in the short-term. Variable electronic messaging boards (VMS) telling drivers to slow down and further sections of central reservation safety barriers are needed now to improve road safety. I met with the Department for Infrastructure before Christmas and will be meeting with the PSNI in the near future on this matter, and I will continue to pursue the safety measures needed to reduce the tragedies we have unfortunately seen all too often on this stretch of road. We have waited long enough.”