Anxious farmers in the townlands of Ballyvicknakelly and Lurganbane, near Dromore, are hoping that Down County Council will provide a new bridge over the River Lagan to replace the existing one which, it is claimed, is undermined in the river bed and “may collapse any day”.
The present bridge on the Lurganbane cross road was built privately by farmers in the area 25 years ago and has never been “adopted” by the road authority, Down County Council.
Anyone who uses the bridge, according to notices erected recently by Down County Council workmen, “do so at their own risk”. The notices make it clear that the bridge is “unadopted”.
Officially, the one mile long Lurganbane road – it links the Ballynahinch and the Blacklog roads – cuts through the bed of the River Lagan at a ford.
The existing bridge which is, theoretically speaking, privately owned, was built by local farmers at a cost in the region of £150, the money coming from a voluntary collection made in the district.
The road, with its privately-owned bridge, now carries a constant flow of traffic and no one – not even County Council vehicles, as one farmer pointed out – would attempt to drive across the river bed.
Farmers in the district recently petitioned Banbridge Rural District Council in an effort to have their problem solved and a deputation from the Council is to meet the Down county surveyor on the spot within the next two weeks.
In the petition, signed by approximately 50 people, the farmers pointed out that the bridge was erected when “traffic was not so dense” and that it was now undermined in the river bed “and may collapse any day”.
The road on the Ballyvicknakelly side of the river, it pointed out, was constantly under flood water which rose to a depth of several feet.
“After rain the flood level gets so high that it is impossible to cross,” the petition stated. Little children have to be carried to and from school Their mothers constantly worry in case the children do not recognise the flood water from the river.
“The council men stopped filling in the potholes when they came near to the bridge because it is supposed to be privately-owned.
“There are five farmers who own outfarms on either side of the river and they have to cross this bridge several times daily to care for livestock. They have to paddle across the flood, enter a field and then return to the road a few hundred yards along.”