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Minister listens to Armagh I readers and agrees £250,000 Keady Road scheme

Work will start on Monday on urgent works aimed at improving safety on the Keady Road – and it’s all thanks to YOU.

Armagh I readers responded to an online petition which we highlighted back in November demanding action.

It came after a series of serious accidents, over three consecutive nights, at Ballyards.

And, indeed, there have been many more since.

The goal was to reach 1,000 online signatures and, within the space of a week, YOU did just that.

The matter was taken up with Roads Minister Danny Kennedy and, as they say, people power is a wonderful thing.

Despite serious budgetary restrictions, Minister Kennedy has committed £250,000 to a scheme to improve the road.

And work will start on Monday clearing the area ahead of the works. The road will remain closed until March 22.

The petition had been launched by SDLP Councillor Thomas O’Hanlon, who enlisted the help of Armagh I in driving the campaign.

Councillor O’Hanlon, speaking on the announcement, said: “The Keady Road at Ballyards is a notorious accident blackspot, hardly a week goes by without a serious accident; you can see the hedgerow littered with car parts and debris from the latest accident.

“I have been lobbying hard over recent years to have the Keady Road improved and there have been a number of schemes completed, the first just above Girvan’s Bridge and secondly at the entrance to Bachelors Walk just outside Keady.  However this has always been the most dangerous, most accident prone and probably most difficult location to solve.  In the last six months alone there has literally been dozens of accidents, and some very serious at that, with people having sustained significant injuries.

“Just before Christmas I was approached by some local young people who were genuinely afraid to use the road for fear of being involved in an accident, despite being very careful drivers. They suggested we get a petition together and with the help of Armagh I we gathered over 1,000 signatures within a couple of days.  This petition was forwarded to Regional Development Minister Danny Kennedy.”

“Minister Kennedy instructed officials to review the location and to come back with a detailed proposal.  The design work has now been completed, land owners have been consulted, a contractor has been appointed and I am delighted to confirm that work will commence on site on Monday.  This is a significant scheme and has to be very much welcomed.  I want to thank the Minister and his officials for their work to date.

“The scheme will have involve a significant realignment with the road widened, the removal of many large trees which are overhanging the road, the creation of verges and substantial resurfacing.  The works will see the road closed at various times with local diversions in place, it is expected to take up to eight weeks for the work to be completed and will cost in the region if £250,000.

“This is a significant scheme, it has to be very much welcomed and I hope it will make the Keady Road safer to travel along.  I know the works will mean short term diversions, but it will be worth it in the longer term.  In the mean time, I would ask motorists to be patient whilst the works are ongoing.

“Again I would extend my sincere appreciation to the officials in Roads Service who’s hard work has brought this scheme to this point and of course to Minister Kennedy for supporting the scheme and ultimately for making it happen.”

Danny Kennedy said: “I would like to acknowledge the assistance of landowners in the area. Without their co-operation TransportNI would have difficulty in taking the project forward in such a short timescale.

“A scheduled resurfacing scheme will also be brought forward and delivered as part of the project, ensuring minimum disruption to drivers and local residents.”

The original petition, addressed to Minister Kennedy, read: “We the undersigned call on you and your department to take urgent action to have major improvements at Ballyards on the Keady Road, Armagh.

“This section of road is a notorious accident blackspot and yet Roads Service have failed to take any real and meaningful action to make improvements on the road.

“We appeal to you to have urgent works carried out at this stretch of road before someone is killed.

“This week alone, there have been three separate accidents on the road, with one local lady remaining in hospital because of her injuries.

“We urge you to use your Ministerial office to intervene and have improvements carried out without further delay.”

Closures will also be required towards the end of the scheme to complete final resurfacing. Well signposted diversions and temporary speed limit will also be in place.

While TransportNI has planned the works to keep disruption to a minimum, drivers should expect some delays and are advised to allow addition time when travelling in the area.

We at Armagh I are absolutely delighted that this scheme has been given the go-ahead and want to thank all who took the time to sign and share the petition.

By the click of a button and showing your support, you have undoubtedly helped to save lives.

Thank-you to each and every one.

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