SEVERAL hundred frustrated residents have signed a petition calling on the Roads Service to correct the “disastrous” layout changes to the Brownstown Road-Armagh Road junction.
The junction, one of the busiest in the town, has been heavily criticised since alterations started in February.
Pedestrians have branded it a death trap, complaining that they have only “two or three seconds” to cross the junction before the ‘green man’ turns red.
Motorists have been equally critical, claiming the layout is confusing and that queues have lengthened substantially.
One young mother who spoke to the Portadown Times described it as a “disaster”.
“There are big, big problems with the junction,” she said. “I had to hit the pedestrian crossing button two or three times before the ‘green man’ would even show. And when it did it only appears for two or three seconds. It’s just not safe with a pram.”
Dwaine Smyth, owner of The Meat Cleaver butchers based at Shamrock Chalet retail park, said he had heard numerous complaints about the junction from his customers.
“I’ve had loads of complaints about it. The problem is that cars are queued back and customers can’t turn in (to Shamrock Chalet). At the minute customers are dealing with it but if it continues, then I think customers will get fed up and go elsewhere.”
The butcher added that he had accumulated a page of signatures within hours of placing a petition on his shop’s counter.
Earlier this month a cyclist was hit by a car close to the petrol station and was treated for injuries in the Royal Victoria Hospital’s intensive care unit. Back in June a pedestrian was hit as he walked across the Brownstown Road.
Police reported that the man did not require medical attention.
Motorists have also repeatedly complained to the Portadown Times of traffic flow problems, with many drivers forced to sit for upwards of five minutes at the traffic lights.
Leslie Brady from Orchard Drive, who gathered helped collect signatures for the petition, said the Roads Service had made a “complete hash” of the junction.
“The road is totally wrote off. I had two sheets (of the petition) filled within a day. I even went up to the DUP office (on Monday) to get some more.
“My wife does the driving and she has been forced to wait two, three or four minutes to turn out of Orchard Drive. It’s even worse when she’s trying to turn back into Orchard Drive because you end up holding other drivers up.”
Another resident in a similar situation is George McCullough, who described the traffic situation as “bumper-to-bumper”.
“The lights seem to be 70 to 80 seconds on red and 15 on green and even before (the work started) traffic would build up even if it run-of-the-mill traffic. But since it started, it has been a million and one times worse.”
Mr McCullough added that the widening of the footpath had indirectly created problems for motorists with “spare ground” being used as a make-shift parking area which obscured the road view for drivers.
“It’s a complete mess. Work started on February 28 and here we are six months’ later,” he added.
The petiton has prompted DUP councillors Darryn Causby and GLadys McCullough to call for an investigation into the Road Service’s “shambolic” handling of the project. The pair said in a joint statement, “The work at this junction has gone on long enough, the whole programme of works has been shambolic from the beginning. It is our view that at this stage DRD Minister, Danny Kennedy, and his Junior Minister Jo-Anne Dobson need to launch an investigation to find out why this project has taken so long and why was the junction left in its current state for weeks.”
The councillors continued, “We have seen two accidents at this junction - one of which was very serious - and it would be irresponsible for the Minister to ignore our plea for this investigation because the people who have endured this farce of a junction deserve answers. We believe that there were serious errors made whilst this scheme of works has been ongoing and the users of this road need to know why theses errors have been made and the residents deserve to know why they have been hemmed into their properties because of the long traffic queues.
“Consistantly we have been told to have a little more patience and quite frankly our patience and that of the residents has run out. The residents in and around the area have lobbied us in their dozens and we will continue to make their concerns know. We only hope and pray that no one else in injured at this junction as a result of the road works and we urge DRD Roads Service to act now and sort this junction immediately.”