A near miss at what has been described as a ‘dangerous’ chicane in Aghagallon has sparked a large protest by locals.
It was the latest in a number of ‘near misses’ at a barrier erected by Transport NI to reduce speeding through the village, according to a local councillor.
A number of ramps and a barrier were erected in an attempt to get traffic to slow down several years ago.
However, over the last few months there have been calls to remove it as some motorists have been crossing to the wrong side of the road while oncoming traffic are trying to pass.
Local man Brian McManus, who was bringing his children to school in Lurgan, was astounded when a large truck moved from behind the barrier to his side of the road and drove at speed to try and return to his own side of the road.
The truck narrowly missed hitting his car as can be seen on a dashcam video he took at the time.
Local SDLP Cllr Joe Nelson said: “For a number of years now I have been making representations to the Roads service to review traffic calming arrangements in Aghagallon.
“This has been as a result of the developing population in the village and overall increase in the volume of traffic given that people are using B roads to avoid congestion points on motorways etc.
“At peak times the traffic through the village is significant, including cars, buses and large lorries.
“The design of the traffic calming was fit-for-purpose a number of years ago but it’s usefulness has been overshadowed by the traffic dangers it now creates.
“A lot of children walk to school in the mornings and they are literally taking their lives in their hands every morning as drivers compete to get through the chicane with no regard to yielding right of way.
“The Board of Governors of St Patrick’s Primary School have also written to the department and also received a Dear John letter.
“Despite raising this at a senior level within the road service locally they remain adamant that this arrangement is fit for purpose.
“What value do they put on a life,” asked the local councillor. “A similar scheme in Hamiltonsbawn (with a significantly lower volume of traffic) was removed to accommodate the Giro D’Italia and was never reinstated (I wonder why),” he said.
“There is a reasonable, simple solution in the short term to replace the chicane with a ramp that makes drivers slow down rather than race for the opening.
“Last weekend local residents met to discuss what actions could be taken to highlight concerns.
“An initial protest meeting took place on Friday evening where a large number of residents met on the site to protest about the situation.
“As an elected representative I propose to leave no stone unturned in getting the authorities to recognise that its better to take proactive action rather than wait until someone is badly injured or indeed killed.”
The Department of Infrastructure was sent details of Cllr Nelson’s concerns plus a link to the video of the incident between the lorry and the car at the chicane.
A Department for Infrastructure spokesperson said: “Aghagallon currently benefits from a series of traffic calming humps. The Give-Take priority islands at either end of the village are an accepted feature of traffic calming. Motorists are required to obey the traffic signs in place and give priority to oncoming vehicles.
“In previous correspondence with Councillor Nelson, the Department has explained why we must target our limited resources to locations where there are no existing traffic calming measures. However, the Department also explained that consideration will be given to the replacement of the Give-Take islands as part of any future road works that may be planned for this location in Aghagallon, subject to the necessary funding being available.”