Northern Ireland

New bridge to reduce traffic flow in Newry not able to allow boats over 12m in height to pass under

The Newry Southern Relief Road Bridge
The Newry Southern Relief Road Bridge The Newry Southern Relief Road Bridge

A BRIDGE to help reduce traffic flow in Newry will not be able to allow boats over 12 m in height to pass underneath along the city canal.

The Department for Infrastructure confirmed its preferred option for the bridge, which will link the main Belfast to Dublin road with the Newry to Warrenpoint carriageway, was a non-opening 50m (164ft) fixed bridge.

Campaigners have argued that any new bridge should be able to open to allow for tall ships and larger yachts.

The bridge is part of the Newry Southern Relief Road (NSRR) project, which has been allocated £93.4 million in funding as part of the Belfast Region City Deal.

In addition to reducing traffic flow in Newry city centre, the bridge would enhance access to and from Warrenpoint Port.

Peter Maxwell from the Newry-Portadown branch of the Inland Waterways Association of Ireland said: "My own yacht I had years ago had a mast height of 21m.

"Last year I sold a 14m (45ft) tall boat - neither would be able to pass under this bridge.

"I'm disappointed. We were promised a consultation on site with a minister.

"That never happened.

"This to me is completely out of the blue and there was no mention of a decision being made."

The Department for Infrastructure said the decision was taken after extensive consultation, including drop-in sessions for the public and meeting interest groups.

It said it would now prepare an environmental impact report and further consultation.