A LEADING voice within Mourne’s business community has called for major work to improve the roads running between Newcastle and Warrenpoint. Kilkeel Chamber of Commerce’s president, Alan Knox, made the plea in the wake of the reopening of the Newcastle Road, at the northern end of the fishing town, which was closed for nine days due to a major subsidence, brought on by torrential rain and flooding.
The road, which reopened on Friday shortly before rush-hour, had been closed from 1 November, once the subsidence was reported. With the road now fully reopened, and a lot sooner than had originally been envisaged, Mr Knox thanked those involved in the repairs. However, he also took the opportunity to reiterate the point that this recent closure, which forced vehicles of all shapes and sizes onto narrow country roads used for the diversion, has underlined how “vital” this arterial route is to the local economy and the community too.
Calling for a “fight to improve the coastal route,” Mr Knox told his local paper that the Newcastle Road’s reopening “has come as a great relief for local businesses and the wider community,” and also welcomed a similar, albeit partial, reopening of the Killowen Road, further along the coast. “With both road closures leading to lengthy diversions, Kilkeel resembled somewhat a ghost town, cut off from the rest of the country. However, with both roads re-opening, Saturday proved a busy day for many local traders with the Christmas rush beginning,” he added. Thanking the contractors who had been appointed by the Department for Infrastructure, Mr Knox said it was a relief to all that they “carried out the works at a quicker rate than first anticipated”.
He also put on record his thanks to local politicians “who lobbied hard in order to make sure Newcastle Road was treated as a priority scheme after the flooding.” The chamber of commerce representative added: “Due to our isolated location it is vital, going forward, that major road works are undertaken to improve the stretch of road from Newcastle right through to Warrenpoint. “After recent events it proves how vital this link is to our local economy and community and we would urge all local politicians to collectively fight to improve the coastal route.”