Roadworks headache

ROADWORKS on the Silverwood Road are continuing to cause a headache.

Two weeks ago the ‘MAIL’ reported on how a man had been hemmed into his cul-de-sac and other drivers were given tickets by police for ignoring road closed signs.

This week the ‘MAIL’ has heard from a company director concerned about the effect the roadworks are having on his business as well as a driver who claims she was ‘unethically trapped’ by police.

Patrick McCrory, director of McCrory Scaffolding, said: “All day last Tuesday, the road was closed to either end of the main entrance to our business premises in Silverwood Industrial Estate. This meant we had no access. We employ in the region of 150 people and have lorries and heavy transport driving in and out of our premises all day.

“I contacted the PSNI on Tuesday evening and was been told that it is not a police matter despite an accident that occurred on the road that evening. I have been informed to deal with the DRD directly.

“Am I to assume that because the road is closed, that I should close our premises for the duration of the works? If this is the case as I will have to let customers down and make employees redundant as a result.

“As I see it we have no alternative means of access or egress to our premises without illegally passing through a closed road. We have been informed by the contractors undertaking the works that the road is closed and there is no route through.”

He added: “We have been informed of no alternative traffic re-routing measures and there is no signage to indicate a safe passage through the works for our vehicles.

“I am aware that police have been handing out fines for vehicles that drive though the road works. I am therefore left with the choice to close our business or to run the risk of a fine or serious injury by having our vehicles driving through a closed road.”

A Lurgan woman who received a fine for bypassing a ‘Road Closed’ sign contacted the ‘MAIL’ to say: “I was one of those given a fixed penalty which I have since paid under duress and feel that the method used to ‘trap’ people was unethical.

“I did observe one red sign on the side of the road saying ‘Road Closed’, however, I could also see that traffic was moving ahead therefore I proceeded to follow.

“Police were stopping vehicles, however, I had no idea that they were giving out fixed penalties - I actually queried the behaviour with another officer as I just couldn’t believe what was happening - his answer was that I shouldn’t have followed the traffic.”

The woman added: “I am aware other cars were queuing up behind me and as such there was no option but to take the fine, however, I had no problem travelling onwards past the roundabout at Tannaghmore onto Craigavon, so my point is, where was the road closed? There were no cones across the road.

“I do note that the following day there were cones and yellow and black signs out in large numbers indicating road closures between certain dates so as mentioned to give out fixed penalty fines prior to this I feel is wrong.”

A DRD spokesperson said: “Silverwood Road was not closed to local traffic during this important improvement scheme. Every effort was made to accommodate local drivers who needed to get into, or out of, housing developments, and the industrial estate.

“Inevitably, there will have been a few occasions when local traffic was delayed for short periods to allow the laying of asphalt. Roads Service is sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused and thanks drivers for the patience they displayed.”

The spokesperson continued: “The Silverwood scheme represents a significant investment in the improvement and resurfacing of roads in the area. This will be to the benefit of local residents, businesses and motorists passing through. In order to carry out this work as quickly and as safely as possible, there was a legally enforceable temporary road closure order in place.

“Throughout the scheme, signs were put in place to direct ‘through traffic’ around the site, as well as signs to advise drivers of when the closures would take place. The contractor carried out a leaflet drop to advise local people and businesses of the arrangements being put in place to facilitate access and egress. Roads Service has replied direct to Mr McCrory.”