A Craigavon resident has said that the original ethos of the area has been “ditched”, with the proposed footbridge demolition at Legahory striking another blow on pedestrian access in the area.
The Moylinn East footbridge in the area is to be removed over the weekend of Thursday to Monday, March 16-20, the Department for Infrastructure (DfI) has confirmed.
Part of the main Lake Road will also be closed while the work is carried out.
The works will see the existing footbridge removed with an alternative wheeling, walking, cycling link being provided while a permanent solution is developed.
At Council’s monthly meeting on Monday, February 27, councillors were provided with correspondence from DfI advising Moylinn East footbridge is “beyond economic repair”.
Sinn Fein group leader, Councillor Liam Mackle said council needed to respond to the letter making it clear “we would want that bridge replaced as soon as possible”.
In the Armagh I newsletter on Friday, February 24, we asked our readers their thoughts on where exactly Craigavon fits into the ABC Borough in 2023, and what happened to the 1960s vision of a ‘new city for the West?’
One resident who we spoke to is Arthur Watson, who has lived in the area for over 40 years.
He says that the original vision for the area has been “ditched” and is sceptical that the Moylinn footbridge will ever be replaced, due to the creation of the alternative route.
“I use the bridge every day to get to the Lakes and shops. It is used by a lot of people,” he said.
“The bridge has seen no maintenance in over 40 years. It has never been resurfaced and the tarmac is broken. It has been neglected since it was built.”
Arthur says that the demolition of the bridge is just one symptom of the old vision of the separation of traffic and pedestrians in Craigavon being discarded.
“The neglect of the bridge is indicative of the ‘new city ethos’ being ditched. The black paths have been neglected and the road traffic into new developments supersedes the pedestrian paths.”
The Black Paths, which were designed in the 1960s as a travel network for Craigavon, are mostly separate from the road traffic network, and were built to feed into that early vision for the area.
Arthur says that this network needs to be improved if the council is serious about trying to encourage people to walk and cycle more.
He said: “The pedestrian access needs improved with the same care and attention as the roads. There is no appreciation for the pedestrian network.”
However, he adds that Craigavon has had a “renaissance” in recent years, with businesses coming to the area.
“The place is on the up. The shopping centre is still busy, though it is not as good as it once was,” he said.
“People don’t realise what they’ve got here, there’s a brilliant leisure centre, and a new SRC would lend weight to a railway stop here, which would transform the place.
“Craigavon needs to feel like a proper town centre, with something coherent.”
Back in 2019, planners had given the go-ahead for a new £45m Southern Regional College (SRC) building at Craigavon Lakes.
However, the proposal was opposed by Save Craigavon City Park and Lakes group, which said the green space should be preserved, and local resident Clare McCann lodged an appeal with the court to have the decision overturned.
The Court of Appeal has since ruled in their favour and overturned planning approval, leaving the fate of an SRC campus in Craigavon unknown.