Public inquiry launched for safety improvements to A1

A public inquiry into a scheme aimed at improving safety on the A1 dual carriageway from Lisburn to Newry is set to begin in March.

The A1 Junctions Phase 2 Strategic Road Improvement Scheme will close all gaps in the central reserve between Hillsborough roundabout and Loughbrickland.

It will also install a continuous central reserve safety barrier on this stretch of the road.

There has long been calls for improvements to the A1, with 60 people dying on the road since 1998, the latest in November when a 75-year-old woman lost her life.

A public inquiry was called after the Department for Infrastructure was unable to resolve issues raised during a consultation of the scheme.

The majority of more than 100 responses received were in support of the scheme but several objections from landowners and others were also submitted.

Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon, said she was “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,” she added.

Other improvements listed in the scheme include the construction of four new Compact Grade Separated Junctions (CGSJs) at Listullycurran Road, Gowdystown Road, Skeltons Road/Drumneath Road and Waringsford Road.

There will also be a northbound on-slip to the A1 from Castlewellan Road, Banbridge, the provision of a link road between Milebush Road and the Hillsborough Road underpass, Dromore and the closure of nine side roads with improvements to the remainder of side roads which will operate as left-in/left-out only.

Several private accesses along the route will also close with the remainder operating as left-in/left-out only while all mainline bus stops will also be closed with new bus stops provided at the four new CGSJs.

The scheme also mentions provision of Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) proposals including Variable Message Signs (VMS), Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) and Auto Number Plate Recognition (ANPR).

The public inquiry begins on March 11 at 10am in the Belmont House Hotel, Banbridge.