Access to the Fountain Estate from Bishop Street is to be redesigned, the ‘Journal’ can reveal.
The revamp will, it’s understood, result in the reopening of a pedestrian access gate that has been blocked off for some years.
The entrance to the Fountain at Bishop Gate is closed off at one end for security reasons.
However, local residents - both in the Fountain and Bishop Street - say the closure is dangerous for pedestrians.
Indeed, just days ago, a 10-year-old boy was hit by a car while crossing the road at the gate.
His mother says it was an “accident waiting to happen”.
“He had to cross the road because the pedestrian access on his side of the road was blocked off,” she said.
“If this pedestrian gate was open to pedestrians, there would be no reason for pedestrians to cross the road.
“ However, because of the closure of the gate, they have to negotiate what is a busy section of road. In addition, because your view is impeded by a screen, you can’t see if a vehicle is coming through the main gate. It’s very dangerous. It’s time the access gate was reopened.”
This is a view shared by local Sinn Fein MLA Karen Mullan who has been lobbying for the reopening of the access gate for the past two years.
“This latest incident could have been avoided,” she says. “While there may be security concerns for some residents which require careful consideration, ongoing road safety issues cannot be ignored and need immediate action.
“I am contacted weekly by residents from the Fountain and Bishop Street who are frustrated and want this access gate to be opened. I’m calling on the Department of Justice to end the delays and immediately open this gate before someone is seriously injured or worse.”
A spokesperson for the Department of Justice told the ‘Journal’ yesterday: “The Department is aware of the incident and a member of staff has been in contact with the mother of the boy involved and wished him well in his recovery. We are continuing to work on ongoing plans for a redesign of the entrance to the Fountain Estate from Bishop Street that will permanently remove the blockage to pedestrians. A letter will issue to residents next week setting out our intentions, both in the longer term and proposed interim measures to address this issue.”