NEGOTIATIONS are ongoing between a pub owner and the Department for Infrastructure about purchasing a well-known local bar in a bid to improve road safety at a notorious accident blackspot.
The Department is currently in talks about vesting The Prospect Bar at the crossroads at the Glebe, outside Sion Mills.
The junction of Bellspark Road, Prospect Road and Orchard Road is regarded as an accident blackspot after witnessing a slew of collisions in recent years.
The scheme suggested by the Department would involve the purchase of The Prospect Bar, and land adjacent to it, to facilitate a staggered junction.
Sinn Féin MLA Maolíosa McHugh has been heavily involved in campaigning for improvements to be made to the junction, and has welcomed the move.
He said, “Improvements have already been made by the Department, but the accidents still continue to happen in the area.
“The biggest problem is clearance because you can’t see straight ahead.
“If they vest the bar, they will be able to make the clearance.
“I have received more complaints about the Bellspark Road and that junction than any other road in the whole of this area.
“It is being used as a bypass of Sion Mills and Strabane through the village of Clady – that is what increases the risk as there is a lot of traffic using the junction,” said Mr McHugh.
SDLP Derg councillor Steven Edwards also welcomed the development and indicated he will continue to lobby the Department for the necessary funds to proceed with the plans once a business case is brought forward.
Cllr Edwards said, “It’s positive that Roads Service are working on a scheme to improve safety at this notorious junction. There have been many accidents here over recent years.
“This scheme needs to be prioritised as it has caused serious safety issues over the past number of years. I welcome plans for a staggered junction and for work to improve the splays at the junction which is the main cause of collisions here.
“There is a massive need for this scheme but equally, there’s also a need for drivers to behave responsibly when on these roads.
“It is concerning that there are some budgetary constraints and that is an issue I will continue to take up with the Department,” said Cllr Edwards.
A spokesman for the Department for Infrastructure said, “The work planned at the Bellspark/Orchard Road junction consists of a significant junction realignment and is likely to be built in phases over the coming years as funding permits.
“The initial phase involves improving the visibility at the existing junction beside the Prospect Bar and negotiations are currently underway with the owners with a view to purchasing this property.”