Rostrevor Road damaged as severe weather continues to wreak havoc
A call has been made for a comprehensive safety review of the protective sea wall between Warrenpoint and Rostrevor after it partly collapsed following a combination of battering by heavy waves and storm flooding.
SDLP Councillor Connaire McGreevy said that Roads Minister Danny Kennedy “had failed in his duty of care” by not putting in place the necessary protective measures for the coastal road link.
And he said local people living in both towns were entitled to ask if it was now safe to travel on the classified ‘A’ road. “The area serviced by the road has to cope with tens of thousands of vehicle journeys, especially during the summer tourism season,” McGreevy told Newry Times.
“My fear, and I have made this point on a number of occasions, is that the collapse of the wall is an indication of something much more serious in terms of the entire road system.
“To date the Minister and his Civil Servants, along with the Department’s technical staff, have not been able to guarantee that the battering from the elements has not forced sea water under the road to such an extent that lives are now at risk.
“The Minister cannot abdicate responsibility on this matter. During last year’s winter storms there was also a partial collapse of the sea wall closer to Rostrevor. For over a year the Minister and his staff were well aware that we had a potential disaster staring us in the face,” the SDLP Councillor insisted.
“At the time it was flagged up to the Minister that it was critical that all possible measures had to be implemented to protect what is a vital link in the tourism chain of South Down. Instead we got nothing more than a few potholes being filled in and vague promises that a review would be carried out.
“South Down is one of the main revenue generators for Northern Ireland PLC in the context of inward tourism footfall. However it appears that when it comes down to actually investing finance in supporting local communities and businesses other areas of Northern Ireland continue to receive preferential treatment.
“The appalling inaction surrounding such an important road link is unacceptable. It is another example of vested political interests in other parts of the North being able to wield undue economic influence on issues that should be treated simply on their merits,
McGreevy added, “The reality is that we are lucky that no one has been killed or seriously injured as a result of today’s collapse. We need a sea wall defence that is fit for purpose in the 21st century. It is clear to me that we do not have that currently with the road closed 6 times so far this year.”
McGreevy’s SDLP party colleague South Down MLA Karen McKevitt, praised those involved in trying to fix the major problems. “I want to praise the hard work and dedication of both Roads Service and NIE staff who have been doing their best in difficult circumstances here.
“The road collapsed at the Drumsesk junction and the route was subsequently washed away by the awful weather. Roads Service engineers have been working to make repairs to the stretch of road but this has been delayed by the discovery of an exposed 11,000 Watt electricity cable.
McKevitt added, “This has been extremely worrying but fortunately NIE technicians are now on site with us, working to make the scene safe. The coast has taken a severe battering over the last few weeks following tidal surges and this latest torrential weather.
“Hopefully a clear spell will allow engineers to carry out the necessary repairs to make the road passable again.”
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