Bitumen price hike disappoints in Strathfoyle as surfacing is slashed

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An unexpected hike in the price of bitumen has resulted in a moratorium in road resurfacing works and sparked disappointment in a Derry estate whose residents were hoping their pot holes would be repaired this week.

Strathfoyle community worker, Paul Hughes, discovered on Wednesday that higher than anticipated asphalt costs had meant road resurfacing works in Stradowen Drive had had to be cancelled at the last minute.

Mr. Hughes said Department for Infrastructure (DfI) Network Services officers informed the Enagh Youth Forum that the reason for the postponement was that a number of recently completed schemes elsewhere in the district had cost more than had been originally forecast.

This, according to DfI, was due to the price of the petroleum-based bitumen being used in these works having risen higher than had been bargained for.

Mr. Hughes said he was informed that the Stradowen scheme and other works had had to be postponed because the local DFI budget for these kind of works had now been exhausted.

An exasperated Mr. Hughes said: “Local people have been campaigning on this issue for years.

“I have written to Transport NI to ask them to come out and explain this decision not to carry out these urgently needed resurfacing works to local people.

“People right across this city are constantly being made to feel powerless due to the impact of cuts, whether that be cuts to our health service, our schools, our benefits and our roads. This isn’t good enough.”

Despite the disappointment in Stradowen, there was better news elsewhere for Strathfoyle and for DfI. Mr. Hughes praised the roads authority for helping the estate become more disabled friendly.

Over the past number of weeks staff from DfI’s roads division have been busy carrying out work to drop kerbs and make the place easier to get around for wheelchair and mobility scooter users, as well as for young families using prams. Mr. Hughes estimated dropped kerbs were now a feature in almost 90 per cent of the estate’s streets.

“After many years of campaigning for improved disability access, Strathfoyle has come a long way with almost all streets in the area having the kerbs dropped to facilitate wheelchairs and prams.

“The recent works carried out by Transport NI in the area is enabling Strathfoyle to become more accessible, inclusive and disability compliant.

“ENF see all of this as a ‘work in progress’ and we now call upon Derry City & Strabane District Council (DC&SDC) to ensure that Strathfoyle’s new Play Park also becomes more inclusive in terms of Council installing play provision for disabled young people such as that recently installed in Brooke Park.”

The ‘Journal’ asked DfI for a statement on the budget restraints relating to the postponement of the tarring works in the Stradowen Drive area but at the time of going to Press none was available.