Road safety concerns raised after accident

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Independent Unionist MLA John McCallister said he remains committed to improving road safety for school children in Rathfriland.

Mr McCallister was speaking after meeting with concerned parents from the Hilltown Road on Friday morning.

He said: “I have been working with locals for over a year now who have major concerns for the safety of their children, particularly at peak school times.

“On Friday I met with Ciaran McKenna from Transport NI and parents from Carn Valley. Mr McKenna was left in no doubt that unless action is taken to improve road safety, a serious accident is waiting to happen.

“Since the development of Carn Valley, Bearnagh View and Foxridge, we have many young families now living at the Hilltown Road side of town.

“The biggest danger is for children crossing over the main Hilltown Road in the morning and afternoon as they walk to and from St Marys PS, Iveagh PS, Rathfriland High School and the local bus stops.

“We set out our concerns to Mr McKenna and he is going back to have another look at the traffic assessment and investigate the possibility of introducing pedestrian islands.

“Speed bumps were also mentioned as well as increased and improved signage. Speed of traffic approaching from Hilltown and indeed coming out of town is a big concern for pedestrians. Added to the mix, especially in the mornings, are cars coming off Downpatrick Street and swinging around the pedestrian island at the junction of Hilltown Road, effectively using it as a roundabout. This all makes for a very difficult and dangerous location, especially for school children.”

Mr McCallister said he intends to keep the pressure on Transport NI and if additional money becomes available at the end of the financial year, then further prioritise what has already been listed as a “medium priority” project.

Furthermore, Mr McCallister has also been in touch with the local PSNI, requesting them to carry out an awareness campaign highlighting to motorists the fact that young children use this location on a daily basis.

“Anything that can draw a driver’s attention to the manner in which they drive is important. If you are stopped and a police officer points something out to you, then hopefully that messages stays fresh in their mind.

“With recent road tragedies sadly dominating the news, I don’t want to see anything like this happen in Rathfriland. We all must work together to ensure the safety of our pedestrians, particularly our children.”