One-way street for traffic congestion

MOTORISTS caught in the bottleneck of Rathfriland Street at rush-hour may soon have a snag-free journey as the street is set to become a one-way system.

Councillor Junior McCrum, who has an office adjacent to the busy throughway, says the blueprint has already been approved by Roads Service as part of a £400,000 improvement package to include new kerbing and road surfacing.

He added that extra parking could also be faciliated along the road and this would offset a predicted loss of car parking spaces in Kenlis Street which is earmarked for the town’s proposed new bus depot.

“At the minute it can be a nightmare tyring to drive up or down Rathfriland Street,” said Mr McCrum. “Despite traffic wardens patrolling the area, cars are often double-parked on both sides of the road. If you meet a lorry when that happens, you can expect to be in your car for a long time.”

The change is part of an improvements plan for the area which includes widening footpaths at Tullyear Avenue near the old Downshoes factory, creating a new link road between Newry Road and Old Newry Road and improving access to Ballygowan Road.

Mr McCrum said the money for the scheme would come from a budget of £1.6m which was ring-fenced by Road Service for infrastructure improvements in the district as part of the development of the Outlet centre.

“This money has never really been used the way it was intended, so it will now be good to see some road improvements in Banbridge,” he added.

With regard to the proposed bus depot, he said it was vital the scheme went ahead to allow Banbridge to be brought up to speed with other towns when it comes to public transport facilities.

“There are 283 buses per day on the Translink schedule in Banbridge and if that doesn’t warrant a bus depot, I don’t know what does,” he said. “Most large towns like Banbridge have their own dedicated bus depot and it’s time we had one too.”

In August a group of determined councillors and traders met with DRD Minister Danny Kennedy to press home the case for a dedicted bus station, citing Kenlis Street as the ideal location as car parking spaces and toilet facilities were already on site.

Following the meeting, Councillor Seamus Doyle told the Leader the Minister took the Banbridge group’s points on board and he was “hopeful” of a positive outcome.