Plumbridge safety concerns to be raised at meeting today
Thursday, 13 April 2017
A MEETING is due to take place this afternoon (Wednesday) between Transport NI officials and members of the local community in Plumbridge to discuss various safety concerns.
Road officials will also be quizzed about the lack of progress in addressing remedial works on what one local councillor has described as a "dangerous" bridge.
The meeting has been arranged by Derry City and Strabane district councillor, Patsy Kelly, with members of the Glenelly Development Trust also expected to attend.
Locals have grown increasingly frustrated that no work has been undertaken on the village bridge - despite a warning from a civil engineer two years ago that unless urgent remedial works were carried out the structure could collapse.
Robert Thompson was commissioned to carry out a survey report on the structural condition and health and safety risks of the crossing in the village amidst residents' concerns that it may buckle in future.
On a visit to the area earlier this year at the request of local businessman, Peter McCullagh - representing the community association - Mr Thompson found that a section of the masonry retaining wall on the bridge is "bulging" and "is liable to collapse".
Patsy Kelly has been lobbying on the issue. "No action has been taken by Transport NI despite the civil engineer's report," said Mr Kelly this week. "I have been raising concerns in relation to the bridge for the past two years but Transport NI have been fobbing me off and shirking responsibility.
"I do feel that because Plumbridge is in a rural area that Transport NI aren't paying enough attention to this dangerous bridge and its issues, despite the fact that the traffic levels in the village are absolutely phenomenal.
"I am calling on Transport NI to hurry up and sort this issue out and that's the message I will delivering during this meeting."
Mr Kelly said that it "doesn't bear thinking of the consequences" if work was delayed to the bridge any longer.
Mr McCullagh said he, too, is concerned about the bridge and says he believes the growth of Japanese Knotweed on the structure has damaged it.
"The bridge needs widened and I feel it would be a simple enough process," he added.
He also shares the concerns of Cllr Kelly over the safety of local schoolchildren. Mr Kelly said he is worried about the build-up of traffic in the area, particularly in the late afternoon when a number of school buses line the streets of the village - and this is another issue he will be highlighting at this afternoon's meeting.
"I have been speaking with the Education Authority (Western) Transport and also with Translink as at the moment school buses are parking on footpaths, children are walking out between buses - it's only a matter of time before someone is seriously injured," he explained.
Mr McCullagh agreed adding that the fast speeds of vehicles using the bridge coupled with the schoolchildren alighting from buses is an "accident waiting to happen".
The Education Authority (EA) said it was aware of the traffic congestion issue in Plumbridge and was providing support.
"EA will continue to work with relevant agencies, with a view to seeking a solution as quickly and effectively as possible. While the primary responsibility for ensuring the safety of children on their journeys to and from school rests with parents, the Authority is fully committed to providing a safe service to pupils eligible for transport in the Plumbridge area," a spokesperson said.
Another issue which Cllr Kelly says he intends to bring up at today's meeting is the need for a pathway to allow villagers to walk from the Orange Hall on the Glenelly Road into the village.
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