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Infrastructure Minister responds to concerns over Harryville road resurfacing scheme

Northern Ireland Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon, has responded to concerns raised by local traders over the planned Harryville roadworks due to commence on Monday 10 August.

Over recent weeks, traders have faced many challenges and difficult trading conditions due to COVID-19, and it is feared that road closures to facilitate the roadworks in the area will further damage businesses as they try to recover.

Replying to a letter from local TUV MLA Jim Allister and Councillor Matthew Armstrong who had represented traders, the Infrastructure Minister said:

“As you are aware, a £300k reconstruction and resurfacing scheme for Larne Street, James Street and Alfred Street Place in Ballymena is due to commence on Monday 10 August 2020. You may not be aware that it had been our intention to complete this scheme in previous years but it was delayed until various utilities completed their works to try to reduce the risk of the newly laid surface having to be dug up again soon after the completion of the works.

“With the passage of time the road is now in an extremely poor condition and therefore needs reconstructed as well as resurfaced, as a matter of urgency.

NI Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon

”When the works were initially planned it was to be carried out using a 10 week road closure. However, my officials have been working with the contractor and I am now able to confirm that most of the work will be completed using lane closures, and a full road closure will be in place from Monday 19 October 2020 until Friday 20 November 2020, a period of just under 5 weeks.

“I have been assured that local access to shops will be facilitated and the contractor will be able to accommodate deliveries to shops. I have also asked and been assured that business owners will be kept informed about the planned activities and the likely impact on road users throughout the works. A further letter drop has recently been completed to ensure that residents and businesses in the area are aware of the updated work plan.

”I do understand the impacts of road closures, and the significant impact COVID 19 has had and continues to have on businesses in particular. However this road is in a very poor condition and needs to be reconstructed. I have asked my officials to ensure that the Contractor completes the work as quickly as possible and keeps the local business owners informed about progress and accommodates access and deliveries as far as practicable.

”The delivery of this road scheme, estimated at £300k, will also help the construction industry who, like many other businesses, have suffered significantly throughout the period of the Covid restrictions.”

Responding to Nichola Mallon’s letter, Jim Allister MLA said:

“Whereas the decision to proceed with the Larne Street project at this time shows inadequate regard to the post-COVID trading needs of the local businesses, their concerns have been somewhat addressed by halving the period of complete road closure to 5 weeks.

“I will be holding the department strictly to the undertakings now made and trust we will not see the slippage often associated with road improvement schemes.”

Jim Allister MLA & Councillor Matthew Armstrong

TUV Cllr Matthew Armstrong commented:

“While I welcome the reduction in the complete closure, I’m frustrated that numerous attempts have been made this week to clarify with DFI Roads how shop deliveries and customers will be facilitated, to date these have been met with silence.

“I urge DFI as a priority to clarify what is happening on Monday and the communication link that will be used for shop owners and residents to raise any concerns.”

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