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Motorists' safety at risk due to overgrown rural roadside verges - Claim

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Motorists' safety at risk due to overgrown rural roadside verges - Claim thumbnailA car, owned by a local resident, straddles the stop line at the junction of Tattymoyle Road and Corbally Road, three miles from Fintona on the Tempo Road, as the driver strains to see oncoming traffic.

MOTORISTS in West Tyrone, particularly in the rural areas, are having their safety compromised due to overgrown verges on many roads, it has been claimed.

Local MLA., Tom Buchanan, feels the situation "has got out of hand" and is calling on TransportNI to address the increasingly wild overgrowth on verges on various roads in the area. He has singled out the Drumquin area as being "particularly neglected", while Mid Tyrone councillor, Bert Wilson, is worried about the Fintona area.

Local resident, Glenn McDowell, has grave concerns about the road close to his home. He claims reduced visibility, caused by overgrown grass verges, is making the Tattymoyle Road, close to Fintona, ever more dangerous. Mr Wilson believes poor visibility was responsible for an accident there recently, which left two people "with extensive injuries".

Mr McDowell, who knows one of the injured, said: "I had fought for years to get a crash barrier up as the road is particularly dangerous. In the last 10 or 12 years, there has been around seven fatalities from the chapel cross in Fintona to Imeroo, close to Tempo. It is a fast road, and clear visibility is important."

Mr Wilson has called on TransportNI to address the problem, "otherwise there will be a fatal accident".

"In a lot of cases, especially at road junctions, weeds and overgrown grass verges means there are no sight-lines, leaving it dangerous for motorists," he said.

"There has already been an accident on the Tattymoyle Road, due to the poor visibility in which two people were left with extensive injuries. It's a miracle they weren't killed.

 

"I also witnessed a near accident at a junction on the Carnalea Road, between Fintona and Seskinore, a couple of weeks ago. A vehicle must pull out onto the centre of the road in order to get a view of traffic, and by then it's too late - and it's the same story on several other roads. I have no doubt there will be a fatal accident if the issues aren't sorted. Work needs to begin earlier in the year but TransportNI seem to only have two vehicles and say the money simply isn't available."

A spokesperson for the Department of Infrastructure said the grass cutting programme "is well advanced" and expected to be completed by the end of August/early September.

"The Department will cut all roadside verges and sightline grassed areas at least once in the period April-October, with sightlines at bends and junctions being cut more frequently within available resources, to ensure public safety is not compromised. Officials will review these roads in line with current plans," said the spokesperson.

While Mr Buchanan has welcomed the commitment, he remains doubtful authorities will be able to fulfil their promise of completing the grass cutting programme by September. He said: "Normally, any other year, grass cutting would take place around June time. I have been in contact with TransportNI about the issue across all of West Tyrone, and they have assured that all grass verges will be cut once and this will be completed by September. I don't see TransportNI being able to fulfil that commitment as there is a colossal amount of road verges that haven't been cut."

Rural constituents who are being forced to drive on neglected roads are being treated as "second class citizens", Mr Buchanan claimed.

"The rural constituents who use these roads on a daily bases are being as second class citizens. I can understand why TransportNI are prioritising the main roads, but at the same time the rural constituents deserve the same equality."

He continued: "It is a serious problem and I believe it is getting really out of hand. I don't know where it's going to end. Again, Transport NI will say the Assembly isn't up and going and therefore budgets have been cut back. Therefore, I would call on Sinn Fein to get back into government because people on all walks on life are being affected by the collapse."

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