THE Department of Infrastructure has “recognised” that another footbridge across the River Mourne will be a key element of improving town centre connectivity.
In response to a missive on the issue from Strabane MLA Daniel McCrossan, the departmental assembly liaison officer, Alan Doherty explained that the findings of an option study carried out in 2017 are currently being considered.
“Upon the determination of a preferred crossing point for the footbridge it is hoped that a strategy can be agreed on how to advance the scheme,” Mr Doherty said. “This will include the need to secure planning approval and to develop a collaborative funding strategy.”
He added, “The Department appreciates the concerns you have highlighted in relation to the lack of connectivity between the town centre and transportation facilities. However I wish to assure you that we are committed to working in collaboration with other partners / agencies to bring forward a scheme to the benefit of all those wishing to access Strabane town centre.”
The officer further commented that despite being advised that the park and ride facility at the bus depot has limited capacity, there is presently no plans for the expansion of this site.
This week, following the correspondence from the Department, SDLP Sperrin Candidate Steven Edwards emphasised that Strabane bus station is unsuitable, inaccessible and in major need of enhancement.
Commenting, Mr Edwards said, “The biggest issue with the bus station is that it is not located anywhere close to the town centre. I welcome the fact the Department are looking into this, but this looking must be followed by action.
“A footbridge linking the bus station to the town centre is essential. People living in or visiting the town do not have easy access to the town centre.
“This is not practical for commuters using public transport who have to travel by foot through Bradley Way or Bridgend.”
Mr Edwards also believes that the park and ride is not sufficient for the number of cars that use the facility.
“The Department must make this a priority for 2019 in order to bring public transport in the town into the 21st century,” he said. “Strabane cannot continue to be the forgotten town in the eyes of public officials.”