Delayed upgrades will cost more lives on one of Northern Ireland’s most dangerous roads, a campaigner has said.
Monica Heaney was speaking after the death of a 75-year-old woman in a road traffic incident on the A1, between Banbridge and Dromore in late November.
“I just wish the upgrades could happen quicker,” said Ms Heaney, whose son Karl was killed on the road last year.
The Department of Infrastructure said it was assisting the PSNI investigation into the most recent death.
Part of the main route between Belfast and Dublin, the road has been the site of two fatal crashes in 2019.
Karl Heaney, from Warrenpoint, County Down, died in a crash on the A1 between Banbridge and Dromore in May 2018.
He was the driver of one of the cars involved in a two-car collision.
A spokesperson for the Department for Infrastructure said it recognised the importance of the work on the A1.
‘More people will die because of the delay’
The proposed development of the A1 was first published in 2011.
Along with her son’s partner, Ciara Sands, Ms Heaney has launched a petition calling for upgrades to be made to the road.
So far the petition has received more than than 12,000 signatures.
“It will mean that more people will die as a result of the delay,” said Ms Heaney.
“The year Karl died it was three people who died, and this year it has been two. Next year it will be another two families who lose a loved one.”
She added that if there was a car crash, “someone is responsible for that but the layout of the road has contributed to it”.
Why is the road so dangerous?
The issue around safety on the road centres on the layout of the dual carriageway between Hillsborough and Loughbrickland.
A report from the Department for Infrastructure identifies a number of factors which increase danger on the road.
Currently there are gaps in the central reserve separating the opposing traffic flows, vehicles to turn right and perform U-turns.
There are also a number of private and farm access roads which join directly on to the A1.
Along long stretches of the route, there is no central reserve barrier.
These factors are aggravated by poor visibility in areas.
There have been a number of other incidents on the A1 this year.
In March, a man died in a crash on the road after a two-vehicle collision.
The collision happened close to the road’s junction with the Gowdystown Road, with two other people receiving non-life threatening injuries in the incident.
In January, a lorry struck a car and toppled over on the southbound carriageway.
‘Upgrade needs to happen’
A public inquiry into upgrading the road will be held in March and Ms Heaney wants to address it.
“They are going to be hearing from people who oppose the road, and are going to have meetings to try and resolve the issues,” she said.
“It is important that the voices of the victims are heard, to say why this upgrade needs to happen.”
She said the inquiry would likely push back the start of road improvement work by a year.
Ms Heaney added she appreciated a process to redevelop the road was in place, and it was frustrating for officials in the Department for Infrastructure.
The department said the inquiry comes after a consultation on an earlier stage of the development process, including feedback on an environmental impact assessment report.
It said the consultation exercise had offered an opportunity for the public and other stakeholders to engage, and it had received more than 100 responses.