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Scotch Street roundabout and Newry Road lane changes approved

A major Armagh city centre road scheme, which includes a roundabout at the junction of Scotch Street and Dobbin Street and the loss of 70 city centre car parking spaces, has been given the go-ahead, Armagh I can reveal.

And it is expected that work will get underway in January, at the same time as a comprehensive sewer improvement scheme is underway across the city, and take three months to complete.

On Sunday, Armagh I reported concerns by Rivers Agency of a “potential problem” from flooding from the underground Dirty River.

But the application for the new scheme, which includes a transformation of the Newry Road junction into Armagh, outside the PSNI Station, has been approved and will be presented to Armagh City and District Council on November 3 in what is essentially a courtesy exercise.

The works – which would cost in the region of £800,000 to complete – would involve the creation of a new mini roundabout where Scotch Street meets Dobbin Street, situated at the bottom of the steep Scotch Street incline.

We first revealed the plans by DRD Roads Service’s Southern Division back in August, reporting that it would include removing part of the Friary Road car park, with a flagged paving area in front of the new Dobbin Street toilet block. The roundabout would be located directly in front of this.

With the road therefore widened, this would allow for a central square area of car parking there instead – for in the region of 30 spaces, including two disabled – in the area currently occupied by the raised pedestrian platform directly in front of Johnston’s Bakery.

But overall 70 parking spaces in total will be lost after the scheme has been completed.

The new car parking area would be bordered by new granite paving, in keeping with the rest of the city centre’s streets, improved some years back as part of the public realm scheme.

The entrance and exit to this new park would feed directly into the new roundabout.

Also included are TWO lanes of traffic coming into Armagh from the Newry Road, instead of all traffic currently filing through in one lane. The separate turning lane at the bottom of the Newry Road on to Friary Road remains.

Of the two lanes from Newry Road, the right hand will be specifically for turning in the direction of Barrack Street only, while the left would be for traffic travelling in to the main city centre, although it will also accommodate Barrack Street traffic.

The plans also include for new pedestrian crossing facilities in the area.

An application was submitted by Roads Service three months ago and has been under consideration since then, with those living and trading and likely to be directly affected being informed.

It is for the “realignment and provision of additional lanes, provision of controlled crossing facilities and new access to Scotch Street”.

A Roads Service consultation document supported the scheme and was forwarded to Planners, which found “no issues of concern” with the proposals.

The junctions in this area have long been a source of annoyance, with many complaining that the timing of the traffic lights exiting Scotch Street on to Barrack Street only allow two or three vehicles away at a time.

The proposed works are the latest in a series in that general area, following on from road junction changes, traffic signalisation and lay-out further along the Friary Road in the area in front of the Palace gates.

A  DRD spokesperson, outlining the specifics to Armagh I, explained: “The proposed improvement of the Newry Road/Friary Road Scotch Street junction will see the significant upgrade of the existing traffic signal controlled junction.

“The proposals will result in two lanes of through traffic in each direction, plus right turning lanes on the main Friary Road into Newry Road and the new access to Scotch Street.

“In addition, there will be left slip lanes into and out of the Newry Road junction.

“It will also allow two lanes of traffic to exit the Newry Road and provide a new access road into the city centre. This new access road will connect into Dobbin Street, at a mini roundabout, which will better control traffic movements in this area.

“Access to the Friary Road car park from the city centre will be via the new access road.

“It is anticipated that scheme delivery will result in improvements to traffic progression, pedestrian access to the city centre and improved road safety for all road users and is supported and part funded by Armagh City and District Council.

“This work will complement the recently completed upgrade of the Friary Road/Dobbin Street Lane junction and represents an investment of around £800,000 in improving road infrastructure in Armagh.”

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