The Roads Service has agreed to re-visit the prospect of providing appropriate lighting in the pedestrian tunnels at Lower Water Street and Abbey Way in the city. The possibility of closing the underground walkways has been mooted after repeated damage had been done to the existing lighting and to high spec anti-vandalism lights that had been fitted. The proposal was rejected by the Roads Service who said that closing the tunnels would be ‘a last resort’ as there are no suitably safe alternatives to crossing the busy roads in place. The special meeting with the Roads Service was held on May 22 and while there was no specific date for a decision on the future of the tunnels there is now renewed impetus to ensure greater safety in the area. The tunnels in question have been a source of contention for over a decade with many people citing a lack of lighting and anti-social behaviour as reasons for not using the underground walkways. Councillors expressed concern at the poor lighting system provided in the tunnels which were described as ‘skeletal’ and pointed out that these tunnels should be treated as proper pedestrian walkways which are properly lit. Local Independent Councillor Jackie Patterson has campaigned on the issue for many years but last week told the Newry Reporter that he was still waiting on action from the Roads Service. “We’re still waiting on a response,” said Councillor Patterson before adding, “I just hope that something is done before there is an accident when people are trying to dodge traffic.” The issue has been given more attention due to the fact that many people are using the free car park in the North Street Flats area of the city. The underpasses were created as part of the development of the carriageway after the demolition of the old North Street area in June 1968.
5th June 2013