Down District Cllr Cadogan Enright believes that the lack of a by-pass for Ballynahinch has turned all the small roads in the area into ‘rat-runs’ that are becoming dangerous due to the high number of motorists using them.

According to the  Councillor, the traffic problems in Ballynahinch at all times of the day-but especially at rush-hour-is causing motorists to use narrow country roads in an attempt to avoid traffic jams. These so-called ‘rat-runs’, however, are themselves now becoming overly busy and very dangerous due to the large amounts of traffic.

Cllr Cadogan Enright said “These narrow roads are being used regularly by increasing numbers of vehicles, including lorries and tractors. At many points there is barely enough space for two cars to pass ach other, so ditches and verges are being eroded and I fear it is only a matter of time before serious accidents occur.”

Cllr Cadogan Enright pointed out that ”a by-pass has been promised since the days of Brian Falkener and the situation has only got worse over the last 30 years”. The closure of the Down Railway which serviced Ballynahinch and all the major towns in this area is a decision that we will all rue until the bias towards roads and away from rail is reversed in the Department of Regional Development”.

He continued “These roads are not suitable for large amounts of traffic and large vehicles and they cannot be allowed to become a substitute for a by-pass in Ballynahinch.”

“A by-pass is not only a matter of improving traffic management in the town, it is also about improving road safety both within Ballynahinch and on these smaller roads which are being subjected to increased traffic.”

“On the Drumconagher Road, for example, the road narrows at one point to less than eleven feet between a tree and a stone wall. This makes it very difficult for large vehicles to navigate. Other roads in the area are in a similar position, with poor visibility and a lack of signs to warn people of the dangers,” he added.

Cllr Enright has said he will be urging the Department of Regional Development to put a solid plan in place for a Ballynahinch by-pass which will take into consideration the need for improved road safety.

“Meanwhile local activist Pat Ward will be working with the DOE to imporve the safety of these roads, and have met with them on-site to show the concerns of local people with overgrown hedges and trees obsuring signs, broken signs, dangerous junctions with no sign, where the road surface has been broken up due to over-use and areas subject to flooding which makes the rush-hour traffic even more treacherous”.

Cllr Cadogan Enright concluded by saying that “on the second Friday in January all the roads around Ballynahinch were blocked for three and a half hours. Friends of mine got home from work to places like Ardglass as late as 9.30pm, and this situation will recur every time there is bad wheater will not improve until we solve the by-pass problem. We have written once again to Minister Murphy on this issue, and met him on his recent visit to Downpatrick.”