Latest accident prompts call for action on Bellspark Road junction

Thursday, 2 August 2018

Latest accident prompts call for action on Bellspark Road junction thumbnail

ONLY a major accident would draw attention to the very real need to have a junction outside Sion Mills aligned. If nothing is done people will be killed - This was the claim made this week by Castlederg councillor and former mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Maolíosa McHugh.
For several years now the Bellspark Road and its junction with the Prospect Road/Orchard Road has been the focus of repeated calls for action. In recent months there has been a spate of accidents and near misses on the dangerous stretch.
The area is a busy route with motorists and hauliers alike crossing the border in the hope of cutting their journey time by-passing Lifford, Strabane and Sion Mills daily in large numbers.
The high volume of traffic coupled with poor sightlines and speed approaching the junction makes it as dangerous for drivers as it does pedestrians. Recently, a local councillor said users are approaching the junction with a mixture of "fear and trepidation" in view of the recent accidents.
Cllr McHugh said he was only a stonesthrow away from last Saturday's incident and it proved a stark reminder of the need to have work done on this road before there was a major tragedy on it.
"I've been dealing with this particular issue with Road Services for a number of years now. They've actually made adjustments to the Prospect Road/Orchard Road junction to try and resolve the issue of continuing accidents. They invested in a piece of ground behind the Prospect Bar to improve sightlines and they improved the actual signage at the junction too but accidents continue to happen with continuous regularity. Over the past two weeks there have been four accidents here."
He added that he had the misfortune to actually be there last Saturday when another occurred.
"A car coming into the junction from the Strabane side was involved in a collision with a van and is a complete right-off. Whatever the problem is with that junction, it's only a matter of time before there's a wipe out there. Anyone who uses the Bellspark Road knows that many articulated lorries use it as a short cut coming from and going to Donegal. All the locals know the dangers of the junction and they slow down and even wind down their windows to hear if any other cars are coming," said Cllr McHugh.
He said anyone who wasn't local sometimes didn't realise the junction was there and drove straight on and more times than enough, there was an accident.
Cllr McHugh said it was time for lorries to be banned from this road once and for all.
"I've said for a long time that I was against lorries using this road and the village of Clady as a by pass."
He felt the only way to address the problem in the short term was to realign the road at the junction.
"The Prospect Bar is empty at the moment. You could go up the right hand side of the building if you were looking at it from the Glebe or you could toss the building completely and develop the road. When I raised this with Road Services a number back they told me it was a fairly major investment which would go on a list of priorities and probably wouldn't be too high up it."
He added it was only when there was a major accident that people will come around to thinking why nothing was done about this junction before this.
"It will only be when you get a lorry cleaning out a car load of children that something will be done, that's the sad reality," he claimed.
He said he had raised this issue at a PCSP meeting in Strabane on Monday and was planning to get his local MLA, Michaela Boyle to arrange a meeeting with Road |Services again to highlight his concerns.


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