Enniskillen’s Sligo Road will face fresh disruption in January when works get underway for a 500-metre cycle path from Henry Street to the Waterways Ireland building.

Resurfacing work on Enniskillen’s main arterial route at the end of August and the start of September saw drivers and local business owners becoming frustrated with tailbacks and diversions.

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“Previous work on the Sligo Road caused a lot of disruption for businesses who are very concerned with the prospect of more work,” said DUP Councillor Keith Elliot at a special council meeting on Monday.

The meeting heard presentations from Department for Infrastructure roads officials who said: “Without a doubt, there will be disruption on the Sligo Road. The contractor wanted to come in four weeks ago but we told him he couldn’t do anything on the Sligo Road even leading up to the Christmas embargo.”

He added: “I know there was pervious resurfacing work which caused turmoil but for health and safety reasons, you can’t do a cycle lane without a lane closure. The contractor will work to restricted hours: 9.30am-4.30pm.”

The overall message from the department was: “In the last number of years our funding has been cut to the bare bones – with the limited funds, we are trying to prioritise projects as best we can.”

Sinn Féin Councillor Sheamus Greene hit out at the decision-makers for failing to install a right-hand turn at Brookeborough, where there have been a number of road fatalities on the main A4 road, the most recent being 29-year-old mother of two Kiara McCoy.

“It is getting to be an absolute blackspot in the Western division and needs to be looked at again,” said Councillor Greene. He added: “I was told a right turn at the third junction up into Brookeborough was not possible because there wasn’t enough room. With a bit of engineering cop on, it could have been done. It’s an accident waiting to happen.” He suggested a speed limit similar to that in place at Tamlaght or lights, similar to those at Maguiresbridge.

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Reports presented to Fermanagh and Omagh District Council showed that around £2.4 million worth of local transport and safety measures have been identified by DfI for County Fermanagh over the next two years. In 2017-18 the department will spend £1.95 million in the county, including £600,000 on repairing trunk roads; £750,000 on resurfacing roads; £382,000 on two new cycle routes (£120,000 each), carriageway repairs and footpaths; £200,000 on bridge repair and £21,000 on street lighting.
The meeting also learned that diversions are currently in place at Major’s Bridge outside Lisnaskea because of a “weak point” on the bridge. Traffic will use one lane and vehicles coming out of Lisnaskea towards Maguiresbridge will be diverted along minor roads before re-joining before Maguiresbridge.

“That should take the extra traffic off the weak point on the bridge until our colleagues in bridges have decided the best way to address this,” a DFI official told the Councillors.
Welcoming the £900,000 spent on flood alleviation schemes at Newbridge Road near the Share Centre and at Wattlebridge, Sinn Féin Councillor Thomas O’Reilly criticised the fact that some roads are “cracking and splitting two months after these repairs.”
He said: “I am concerned about the Wattlebridge road and the Derrylin to Enniskillen road. The repairs are made and literally the road is cracking and splitting two months later.”

An official blamed “very deep depths of poor ground” and ruled out excavation and piling due to cost.

On the issue of the department’s budget, Network Development Manager for Western Division, Harry Gallagher said: “Despite a challenging budgetary situation, the department has delivered a significant programme of resurfacing and surface dressing and continues to carry out a programme of routine maintenance, including pothole repairs and street lighting repairs to meet all essential public safety requirements.”
In relation to winter gritting services, he concluded: “The Department is planning to deliver a normal winter service, as in previous years, with all necessary staff and equipment at the ready to be deployed as and when required.”