Safety concerns voiced about A8 wire barriers

The A8. Pic by Google.
The A8. Pic by Google.

Roads Service has moved to reassure motorists of the safety of wire rope barriers on a stretch of the A8 Larne.

It follows concern from East Antrim MLA John Stewart on the costs and safety record of the central reservation barriers on the Larne to Hillhead Road section of the dual carriageway.

Mr Stewart said: “Rather than using traditional Armco barriers or concrete structures to separate the north and south bound traffic, a wire rope and post arrangement was installed when the dual carriageway was being finalised in 2014.

“Anyone who uses the road on the regular basis cannot fail to notice the number of points along the route where an accident has happened and the posts have been knocked over.

“At the moment between Larne and Ballynure, there are six separate gaps in the wire rope separation, which is not only unsightly, but more importantly, dangerous.”

The UUP representative added: “It also seems to take a very long time for repairs to take place after accidents occur, increasing the opportunity for vehicles to go right across into the oncoming traffic on the other side of the dual carriageway.

“They are very common in Australia and New Zealand but concerns have been raised about the dangers they pose to motorcyclists who have dubbed them ‘cheese cutters’.

“Obviously the DfI Roads Service must go by the what the research and road safety best practice says, but I am seeking assurances that this is the best, not the cheapest option.”

In response, a Department for Infrastructure spokesperson said: “When designing new roads the Department uses the Design Manual for Roads and Bridges, which is the standard for road design across the United Kingdom. This manual allows the installation of any EN1317 certified barrier which includes wire rope type vehicle restraint systems.

“A European Road Assessment Programme position paper entitled ‘Barriers to change – Designing safe roads for motorcyclists’ published in 2008, concluded that despite the amount of high profile coverage that wire rope barriers have attracted, the limited research available does not support that they are more dangerous than other types of barrier on the market.”

The DfI added barrier repairs along the A8 are programmed for this September.