DIVERSIONS near Donaghcloney after a tree fell and blocked a road caused mucky mayhem according to residents.
Wilfred Baxter told the Mail there were dreadful traffic jams on the Old Bann Road following the closure of the Tullyraine Road last Thursday night.
Mr Baxter said a tree had fallen and blocked the road at around 10pm and police diverted traffic past his home on the Old Bann Road.
However he said the road was unsuitable for two-way traffic as two vehicles can’t pass each other.
Mr Baxter said that from 7am on Friday morning there were traffic jams as cars, buses and heavy lorries were diverted along the narrow Old Bann Road.
He said many of the vehicles were forced into the ditch and over the grass verge.
“It was a mud bath,” he said.
And he claimed there were a lot of hot heads and road rage as various vehicles tried to pass each other.
“It is clearly only for single traffic,” said Mr Baxter, who said he would be concerned for children walking along that road heading to school.
He said he contacted both police and Roads Service but felt that he was not being listened to by either of them.
He explained that he had no problem with diverted traffic moving along the Old Bann Road on a one way system with the Kiddwell Road also being used.
He explained that this had been a diversion used in the past and had worked very well.
“Commonsense is needed. The police nowadays don’t know the area and they don’t know where they are going and they don’t take advice,” said Mr Baxter.
He claimed he and other neighbours had contacted the police about the alternative route.
And he said that when he eventually got through to an inspector in Banbridge police station, he felt the inspector was more interested in how he had managed to get speaking to him directly than the problem in hand.
A Lurgan motorist caught in the jam told the Mail: “The main road (A26) I use every day was blocked because of a fallen tree.
“I followed the diversion sign down a road I’d never been on before. It was more like a country lane than a road. My car was getting bogged down so I managed to get turned round and get back out again.
“My car was absolutely covered in mud by the time I got back out and I picked up a branch along the way.”
A PSNI spokesperson said: “Police regret disruption to the local community caused by the closure of Tullyraine Road however officers took steps to maintain the flow of traffic in the least disruptive way possible and find an alternative for motorists using the area.
“In this instance, Old Bann Road was the most appropriate solution to maintain traffic flow. While we recognise that the use of secondary roads is not always ideal, we have to work with the options available to us on the basis that the arrangements are temporary. Every effort is made by all involved agencies to reopen closed or blocked roads as soon as possible. The patience and support of the local community is vital in enabling us to do this.”
A DRD Roads Service spokeswoman said: “Diversions were put in place by Roads Service emergency response staff after a large tree was completely blocking the A26 Tullyraine Road, Banbridge in the early hours of Friday morning. The road was closed immediately to avoid danger to motorists, particularly as it was dark and experiencing extreme storm conditions.
“The following morning Roads Service subsequently introduced a system of one way traffic on roads in the vicinity of the road closure whilst the tree was being removed. The Tullyraine Road was reopened to traffic at lunchtime that day.
“Old Bann Road would normally not be used as a diversionary route for two way traffic during normal planned maintenance activities however this was an emergency closure which meant the Old Bann Road had an increased traffic usage.”