Campaign success on A1 road safety

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CAMPAIGNERS have welcomed the commitment from Infrastructure Minister, John O’Dowd, to implement phase 2 road safety improvements on the A1.

The second phase of the scheme, along the dual carriageway between Hillsborough and Loughbrickland, will include closing gaps in the central reservation and the provision of a continuous central safety barrier. It represents an investment of over £100 million.

Speaking in the Assembly chamber last week, Minister O’Dowd committed to delivering the A1 project “in one complete package rather than a series of phases”.

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He also paid tribute to Monica Heaney and other campaigners for keeping this issue front and centre politically.

Campaigners Sínead Lunny, Monica Heaney and Alliance councillor Joy Ferguson have welcomed the Ministerial approval to progress phase 2.Campaigners Sínead Lunny, Monica Heaney and Alliance councillor Joy Ferguson have welcomed the Ministerial approval to progress phase 2.
Campaigners Sínead Lunny, Monica Heaney and Alliance councillor Joy Ferguson have welcomed the Ministerial approval to progress phase 2.

Monica, who has tirelessly fought for safety improvements on the A1 following the tragic death of her son Karl, said she was “relieved” to hear the Ministerial announcement.

“With the number of fatalities and collisions on this road, upgrades to the A1 are overdue,” she said.

“The intention of my six-year campaign was to improve road safety so no other family would experience the grief and loss my family endured since the loss of my son in 2018, in a collision that was entirely preventable.

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“I would like to thank the Minister for Infrastructure for his commitment to progress phase 2.

“My fellow campaigners and I will continue our communication with the department to ensure no further delays and that the commitment is realised by 2028.”

Banbridge business owner, Sínead Lunny, who sustained life-long injuries from a collision on the A1, told the Chronicle: “I am delighted to know that phase 2 will be implemented in one construction package, delivering safety benefits to road users as quickly as possible.

“Like Monica, I feel a sense of satisfaction to know that structural safety improvements will help reduce the number of collisions and injuries.

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“Preventive road safety measures have finally been prioritised to support all road users.”

Councillor Joy Ferguson, a regular campaigner since her election in May 2023, said: “I would like to pay tribute to all campaigners who have supported this campaign, in particular Monica Heaney and Sínead Lunny, who have continued to highlight the need for improvement due to their personal experience.

“It is incredibly brave to channel deep grief and life changing injury towards a campaign that selflessly and passionately seeks to improve road safety for others.

“Their campaign has continued to highlight need and represent the views of the public even without an Executive.

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“I am proud that their voice has finally been heard and that positive change has been delivered from strong political partnership.”

Phase 2 includes the closure of all gaps in the central reserve and provision of a continuous central reserve safety barrier between Hillsborough Roundabout and Loughbrickland, four grade separated junctions with new flyovers at Listullycurran Road, Gowdystown Road, Skeltons Road/Drumneath Road and Waringsford Road and a northbound on-slip to the A1 from the Castlewellan Road in Banbridge, with a left in and left out style junction at Old Manse Road, Banbridge.

It is estimated the contractor procurement exercise will take a further 12 to 18 months before a three-year construction period beginning in early 2026.

An online visualisation of the Phase 2 improvements can be viewed on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EqLOqicD8H8.

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