Friday, June 14, 2024
GeneralLocal roads worst for potholes

Local roads worst for potholes

THERE is frustration over the state
of local roads following a report that
has highlighted the increased
number of potholes in the district.
Recent government data analysed by
CompareNI.com shows there were 110,023
recorded potholes on Northern Ireland roads in
2023 – an increase of nine per cent.
Newry, Mourne and Down district was the
worst area in Northern Ireland for potholes, with
20,080 reported in 2023, a 32 per cent increase
from the previous year. The district had 15,214
potholes in 2022.
A new survey by CompareNI.com found that
91 percent of drivers in Northern Ireland have
issues with potholes in their area. Ninety-four
per cent of respondents also believe not enough
is being done about potholes, while 96 per cent
said they weren’t fixed quickly enough.
Shimna Wheelers is a cycling club based in the
Newcastle and Castlewellan area.
Alan Burke is part of the committee and he
told the Mourne Observer that potholes are a
constant problem.
“How can we cycle safely if our roads are a
minefield of potholes and detritus?” Alan asked.
“A moderate-sized pothole that would not be
felt by a car could be the cause of a serious
accident for a cyclist.
“It is difficult to encourage those new to
cycling to take to the roads when their state is
such a deterrent.”
And he pointed out that the issue is worse for
those who cycle alone on the roads.
“When riding in a group or club such as
Shimna Wheelers, it is the role of the leading
rider to call out potholes or any danger on the
road; for those behind to navigate safely.
“But for the solo cyclist or the inexperienced, a
near crash or damage to their bike can be
enough to drive us back to our cars, perpetuating
the cycle of environmental damage and ill
health.”
Alan added that society should promote
cycling rather than allow a situation to develop
where people would be fearful about getting on
their bikes.
“Many people are choosing cycling as a
greener, healthier and enjoyable mode of
transport. In the broader society we are more
aware of our environmental impact and want
our towns and cities to be uncongested, with
clean air.
“Yet our infrastructure at its most basic,
roads, do not reflect this goal.”
For local businesses the state of the roads is
also a source of concern.
Sam Hughes, from Classic Coaches in
Annalong, pointed out particular areas of
problems for his luxury bus and coach provider.
“The coast road is terrible at the minute for
potholes. From Rostrevor to Newcastle harbour,
it is an absolute disgrace,” Sam said.
“They call the coast road a tourist road, but it
is ridiculous.”
The issue for him and his business is that the
potholes lead to vehicles being damaged as they
regularly hit potholes.
“The damage that has been done to the ball
joints is awful. We have had to change probably
every ball joint on our vehicles for MOT.”
And the issues are not only for buses. Sam
also drives a taxi.
“I had two tyres on my taxi that needed
changed for MOT because of bulges from hitting
potholes.
“My son works as a mechanic and there are so
many cars who are coming in with springs
damaged.”
According to the data used by CompareNI, 78
per cent of all recorded potholes were repaired,
however, over a third took four to six weeks to be
fixed.
Three per cent of potholes were repaired
within one day, 54 per cent were repaired within
five working days, and 41 per cent were repaired
within four to six weeks.
In the Newry Mourne and Down district in
2023, 15,447 of the 20,080 reported potholes were
repaired and 3,038 of those were completed
within four to six weeks.
The Mourne Observer contacted the
Department for Infrastructure to request an
explanation for the increase in potholes.
The questions asked were why the south Down area would have so many potholes and
what work the department does to deal with
potholes?
A departmental spokesperson said: “The
Department has been operating in a challenging
budgetary position for some time and this has
had an impact on road maintenance activities
and the overall condition of the road network.
“In compliance with the Departmental
Limited Service policy for road maintenance,
only the highest priority defects are currently
being repaired and unfortunately some defects
will not be repaired until they meet the required
intervention level.
“The estimated value of the shortfall in
funding between what was needed to maintain
the network and what was actually available to
be spent between 2014 and 2023 is approximately
£920m; it is readily apparent the difference in
quality that should be expected when such a
significant shortfall in maintenance spending
occurs.
“Northern Ireland also experienced the
wettest October in over 153 years of records
which caused severe damage to some roads in
the Southern Divisional area, and we have been
progressing repairs as quickly as possible,
subject to available resources.
“Regular inspections of the road network,
including in the south Down area, are continuing
and defects which meet the Limited Service
intervention level will be taken forward for
repair.
“The Department will continue to work hard to
ensure that our limited funding is targeted at
areas of greatest need.
“The public can report potholes via the NI
Direct website at
www.nidirect.gov.uk/services/report-pothole-orother-surface-defect .”

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