Fermanagh South Tyrone Sinn Féin Sinn Féin -- Building an Ireland of Equals

Deferring Johnston Bridge Repairs Not the Solution - Flanagan

Published: 21 July, 2015

Sinn Féin MLA Phil Flanagan has raised concerns about the announcement by Transport NI that it is to defer work on Johnston Bridge South as a result of the disruption to traffic flows in Enniskillen. The bridge is now due to reopen to two way traffic on 27th August.

Speaking from Enniskillen, Mr Flanagan said,

"I have been raising concerns about the safety of the bridge as far back as September 2013, when it was reported that the bridge had failed a European structural strength test.

"This means that these structures no longer meet present day loading requirements and are in need of urgent structural repairs.

"Phase 2 of this work, which includes the south side of the bridge, has been deferred to allow for a review of management of work on the scheme.

"This means that the Cornagrade Road at Johnston Bridges will reopen to two way traffic by the 27 August without all of the necessary work being completed.

"On the face of it, this may look like positive news.

"However, the work on the Enniskillen side of Johnston's Bridge still has to be carried out if a weight restriction of 7.5 tonne on the bridge is to be avoided.

"Such a restriction would be even more disastrous for congestion levels in Enniskillen in the long-term than the current scheme.

"The question needs to be asked - if some of the work to Johnston's Bridge is left undone, does this leave a section of the bridge unsafe?

"And if this restructuring work is held off, will the funds still be available to repair it when a review of timing and management of the work has been completed or will this funding be reallocated elsewhere given the serious pressures on the budget for roads maintenance?

"In my opinion, a better solution here would be for the work to take place over the full duration of the day, instead of the current approach where a ten-day break was taken in the middle of the work and nothing happens after 5pm. This could meet the requirement of getting this completed by the end of August.

"In order to better manage traffic flows, there must be changes to the timing of the traffic lights at Gaol Square to allow traffic from the Irvinestown and Dublin Roads to move through the town quicker.

"Transport NI have a responsibility to get this necessary work completed as a matter of priority, but a half finished job is not in anyone's interest." ENDS