DFI BLOCKS ANOTHER CROSSING

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ONE of Bangor’s busiest streets should have a pedestrian crossing to combat danger, say roads bosses – but they’re not going to build one.

That’s because officials in the Department for Infrastructure (DfI) can’t find a safe spot on the city’s Belfast Road where they could construct the crossing.

It’s the second time in as many weeks that civil servants have hit the brakes on measures that could tackle issues on roads they admit are dangerous, stating that the features can’t be built in line with their current design and safety standards.

Last week a much-wanted crossing on Donaghadee’s Moat Street was blocked because officials said the potential site was too close to danger zones.

Now they’ve said the same thing about Belfast Road, which is a major route into and out of Bangor city centre and regularly packed with commuters.

North Down MLA Andrew Muir had asked the DfI to build safety measures there, arguing that a stretch of the road on the run-up to Springhill flyover is frequently hit by speeding traffic, problem parkers blocking footpaths and sightlines and close calls from cars entering and leaving a petrol station’s forecourt.

But a DfI spokesman says that although the area meets criteria for a pedestrian crossing, one won’t be built because ‘regrettably it has not been possible to identify a safe location’ on Belfast Road to construct it.

The spokesman blamed ‘the presence of many nearby entrances in the vicinity’, referring to a combination of side streets and businesses that all open onto Belfast Road.

And he added that speeding and problem parking needs to be dealt with by the PSNI, not the DfI, maintaining that those issues ‘relate to poor driver behaviour’.

His words didn’t wash with Mr Muir, who said that local residents can see ‘clear problems and dangers’ that have bedevilled the area for several years.

The Alliance MLA now worries that it’s only a matter of time until someone is seriously injured or even killed on the dangerous road.

“It’s disappointing that the clear need for a crossing is acknowledged, yet time and time again no solution has been found,” he said.

“I worry constantly that a serious collision or pedestrian fatality along this stretch is only a matter of time.

“With traffic leaving Bangor city centre and arriving from the A2, speed here frequently exceeds the 30mph limit; combined with cars parked along both sides of the road and a high volume of vehicles coming in and out of the petrol station, it’s a recipe for disaster.

“Unfortunately the DfI responded to my latest request saying that due to several factors including the proximity of junctions and locations of businesses, it was not possible to identify a safe and suitable place to provide additional pedestrian measures at Belfast Road in Bangor.”

Mr Muir vowed to press the department over the issue further, stating that a crossing and other road safety measures are definitely justified in the area.