Northern Ireland's top 10 most defective roads

By Cormac Campbell
BBC News NI South East Reporter

  • Published

More than 85,000 defects, including potholes, were recorded on Northern Ireland's roads in the past 12 months.

The Department for Infrastructure says "historic underinvestment" has made it difficult to solve the problem.

The current annual budget for roads maintenance is £96m, and the minister has bid for £120m in the 2021-2022 budget.

Figures released to BBC News NI under the Freedom of Information Act reveal a total of 85,983 defects were recorded in 2020.

The stretch of road with the greatest number of recorded defects was the Fathom Line (125), which links Newry with the border on the shores of Carlingford Lough.

In recent months, this road has seen resurfacing and patching repairs but a large number of defects remain in place.

The road's location is notable by virtue of the fact that plans are advancing to build what's known as the southern relief road over the top of it.

This £100m project, which is hoping to secure funding under the Belfast Region City Deal, would link the A1/N1/M1 Belfast-Dublin road with the A2 Warrenpoint dual carriageway.

Preparatory work for the final phase of the cross-border Newry-Carlingford greenway is also under way on land running parallel to the Fathom Line.

Image caption,
Fathom Line had the dubious honour of topping NI's most defective road list

The road with the second highest number of defects was the Kilnacolpagh Road (105) in County Antrim.

This rural stretch, which runs from Lough Road to Carnalbanagh Road, is located between Broughshane and Glenarm.

The Shore Road in Newtownabbey between Doagh Road and Mount Street was third with 101 recorded defects.

The figures released also confirm that between 2016 and 2020, the department paid out £2,067,351.17 on 8,412 successful vehicle damage claims where the cause was a pothole.

Image caption,
Mechanic Bradley Spence sees a lot of damage caused by potholes

Saintfield mechanic Bradley Spence regularly repairs cars damaged by potholes.

"Potholes can cause cracked alloy wheels, burst tyres as well as detrimental problems for suspension - the likes of springs breaking, ball joints and other bits and pieces going," he said.

"It can be expensive to fix. When you think tyres for most cars start at around £40 upwards. Then if you get the likes of a cracked alloy wheel it can be £300-£400 to repair that.

"Just outside Ballygowan, the main road to Belfast is being resurfaced at the minute, but it has caused quite a lot of problems."

According to the DFI figures, the 650m section of road from the Ballygowan roundabout to Tullygarvan Road had 44 defects in 2020 and 39 in 2019.

The Department for Infrastructure said there was a rolling programme of maintenance and repair across the roads network.

"All roads across Northern Ireland are inspected on a regular basis with all defects which meet the department's current intervention criteria being recorded and prioritised for repair," they said.

Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon had made clear she wanted to do more to improve the condition of the road network for all users, the department added.

"However, she is constrained by the level of funding available and continues to stress to executive colleagues the need for investment in roads infrastructure to help address regional imbalance, promote sustainable travel, help communities and improve safety."

"The minister made a bid for £11m for roads in June and did not receive an allocation."

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