Northern Ireland

Bangor's Ballysallagh low bridge hit by lorry

Bridge on Ballysallagh Road Image copyright Department of Infrastructure
Image caption The bridge is on a major commuter road linking the Craigantlet Hills to Belfast and Newtownards

Drivers have called for action after a County Down bridge was hit by a lorry for the fourth time in three years.

Motorists were asked to avoid Bangor's Ballysallagh Road on Tuesday and find alternative routes, which caused delays on the A2 Bangor-Belfast road.

The bridge, which reopened hours later, is on a road linking the Craigantlet Hills to Belfast and Newtownards.

The road was previously closed when a lorry hit the bridge in November 2017, resulting in emergency repair works.

The bridge, which is passable by vehicles under 11ft 3in (3.4m) in height, belongs to Lady's Dufferin's Clandeboye Estate and has been used as a route for farm vehicles.

Call for tougher penalties

Alliance Councillor Scott Wilson said the Department for Infrastructure (Dfl) was "unwilling to recognise this as a serious problem".

Image copyright PSNI
Image caption The Department for Infrastructure said drivers should pay attention to the 13 warning signs and be aware of the size of their vehicle

"Unless further measures are put in place these events will keep occurring," he said.

The DFI said there were already 13 warning signs on the two main approaches to the bridge stating the maximum height of vehicles that can pass underneath.

"There is a responsibility for all drivers to be in control of their vehicles at all times and to pay attention to warning signs and be aware of the size of the vehicle they are controlling," said a department spokesman.

Posts on social media have called for additional height bars to be put in place along the road from the bridge, or for the bridge to be knocked down.

Joan McCabe, who lived in Bangor for 20 years, told BBC News NI that she had seen a lorry crashing into the Ballysallagh Road bridge.

She said: "As I approached the bridge, I saw an oncoming lorry and I could see it wasn't going to clear it.

"I pulled over but the lorry continued, the top of the lorry caught under the bridge but the driver accelerated causing the roof of the vehicle to peel back.

Mrs McCabe added: "I think it should be removed, all the extra signs and notices have made no difference."

'Driving without care'

Stephen Large, who is from Dundonald and commutes to Bangor, told BBC News NI he had sought an alternative driving route as a result of the ongoing problems with the Ballysallagh Road bridge.

"After the last crash towards the end of November 2017 they installed new signage, but it hasn't worked," he said.

"If there isn't a lorry smashed into the bridge, you're stuck behind tractors or there are sheep on the road.

"I go over the Ards carriageway to avoid it completely now."

Suzie Ferguson from Comber said there needed to be tougher penalties on lorry drivers who hit the bridge.

"The signage in place is now clear for all drivers," she said.

"They should also be charged for any subsequent repair work that needs done. They are clearly driving without care and attention."

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