News has just reached me of yet another fatal crash on the A27 Portadown-Newry road. My sympathies are with the family at this time.
The A27 is one of the – if not the – worst trunk roads in NI. Whereas most trunk roads are generally of good quality with occasional lapses, this one is little better than B-class for most of its length, with only short stretches of quality (ironically, the best section of the whole A27 is the non-trunk section between Portadown and Lurgan). This is the official route between the third-largest urban area in NI and Dublin?
It wasn’t supposed to be like this. In the 1960s, the proposal was that a motorway – the M11 – would run from Lisburn to Newry, and the Craigavon Development Plan had provision for road links from this motorway to the New City. But the motorway plans were shelved and Craigavon itself was abandoned half-built, with several roads that it didn’t need and without several roads that it did.
I have a personal hatred for the A27, having lived south of the border for the last few years. Driving north to visit family I face the unappealing prospect of twenty miles of substandard road, and on most occasions I avoid it altogether. I prefer to take the 5-mile C-class road from the A1 at Loughbrickland to Gilford instead – although it is of much lower quality, it is relatively short and almost always deserted. This is of course far from ideal.
The ideal solution would be a new trunk road that takes the most efficient route across country between the A1 and Craigavon, and would replace not only the substandard A27 but also the substandard A50 between Portadown and Banbridge. If the B3 from Lurgan to Gilford was also upgraded, it could take further traffic out of Waringstown and Banbridge. The economic benefits of improved connectivity to the A1 Belfast-Dublin strategic route would be substantial, and lives would be saved. 10 miles of safe new road to replace 20 miles of deadly old road sounds like a bargain to me.