RESIDENTS INCREASINGLY CONCERNED FOR SAFETY AT NOTORIOUS BLACKSPOT

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RESIDENTS living near one of the worst accident blackspots in the borough have said they are increasingly worried about safety on the road.

Just two weeks ago Donaghadee motorcyclist Steven McDowell died after a collision with a car at the junction of the Killaughey and Windmill Roads between Newtownards and Donaghadee.

It was the latest in a series of accidents which, according to one resident, has resorted in at least five fatalities.

Central to the residents’ concerns is a telegraph pole located at the edge of the road onto which a sign was recently placed which obstructed the view of drivers trying to emerge from the junction.

Residents believe the Automobile Association diversion sign, set low on the pole, ‘masked’ oncoming vehicles and creating a major safety issue.

The sign was in place for approximately two weeks but was removed last Friday, five days following the tragedy which claimed Mr McDowell’s life.

It has not yet been confirmed who removed the sign.

Local councillor Mark Brooks said he believed the telegraph pole located at the junction could be part of the problem.

“If you stand at the junction there’s a telegraph pole that you can’t see past, to the left.

“I had to walk right out past the white lines to see past it, so a

car would have to literally drive out into the junction to see past it.

“That’s what the problem is,” he maintained.

“The telegraph pole is going to have to be removed,” he said.

Another local resident, Alan MacArthur, said he believed the diversion sign attached to the telegraph posed a danger to motorists.

He said it completely – though momentarily – obscured vehicles travelling along the Killaughey Road, to those approaching the junction from Windmill Road.

“I was out at the junction of the Killaughey Road at the junction of the Windmill Road, Donaghadee, following the recent fatal accident.”

Referring to photographs he took Mr McArthur explained: “If you watch in sequence, looking towards Donagadee, you will notice that the AA have placed a diversion sign quite low down on a telegraph pole. So much so that an approaching vehicle is masked completely.

“The diversion is along the Windmill Road and down the Craigboy Road. This is a very narrow road and I don’t think it would be suitable as two cars could not pass.”

Cecil Armstrong, who lives on Killaughey Road, said he has long been campaigning for measures to improve safety on the approaches to the junction.

Though his concerns have always centred around the speed of motorists along the road, he agreed the telegraph pole impaired sightlines at the dangerous crossroads.

He has called for signs urging motorists to slow down in the approach to junction, but to no avail thus far.

“I asked a couple of years ago,” he said, but ‘still nothing’ has happened.

“Do they (the Roads Service) not feel a moral responsibility that they should have done something?” he asked.

“They were putting signs up there at the Bangor dual carriageway about speed and asked about them for here and the Roads Service said they couldn’t justify them.”

Accepting that he did not know whether speed played a part in the recent incident, he pointed out that with the plethera of farm vehicles in the area, ‘Reduce Speed Now’ signs were essential.

“There are tractors crossing over this junction that are 40 feet long and if they’re going across the cars coming from Donaghadee just wouldn’t have time to stop – they’d be right on top of them,” he said.

The Department for Infrastructure said the responsibility for signs on poles rests with those to put them in place.

“The Department had not placed any signage on Killaughey Road, Donaghadee at the time in question, nor is the Department aware of any signage being present at this location at that time,” said a statement.

“ Temporary signage for events, including the appointment of suitably competent contractors, is the responsibility of event organisers.”

The Automobile Association did not respond when asked to comment.