12 °CFri, 16

Footpath 'is needed outside the airport before someone is killed'

COUNCILLORS from the Airport ward have called for a footpath outside Belfast International, warning that a pedestrian may soon be seriously injured or killed.

Mervyn Rea of the Ulster Unionist Party brought up the issue under Any Other Business at last week’s meeting of the Operations Commitee at Antrim Civic Centre.

He said that a number of people had contacted him saying that a footpath outside the facility was required.

“Many people are walking out of the airport to the car parks or the filling station and shop.

“Could we ask Roads Service if they could provide a footpath between the two roundabouts where people are walking?

“Sooner or later there will be a casualty.”

Annmarie Logue of Sinn Fein said that she had also been contacted with safety concerns about pedestrians outside the airport.

She said that people were leaving the airport in search of taxis and hotels and could often be seen walking on the road or trying to cross in heavy traffic.

At present, only a verge or hard shoulder is available along most of the Ballyrobin Road and Airport Road and a sign outside the complex warns people not to enter or leave on foot.

In 2016, 27-year-old John Fitzgerald died from injuries he received following a road traffic collision close to Belfast International Airport.

Mr Fitzgerald, from Kilmacthomas in County Waterford, had left the Ballyrobin Country Lodge hotel to dash across heavy traffic to a taxi on the other side of the road.

At peak times, scores of taxis and private vehicles can be seen waiting on the hard shoulder on the surrounding country roads, trying to avoid parking charges within the airport itself.

The new filling station, which opened earlier this year, has around 60 car parking spaces.

Another hotel, car hire companies and three park and ride facilities also abut the airport, which is expanding rapidly and adding new flights regularly.

At the same meeting, Councillor Rea also bemoaned the state of the roundabout at Killead, which he said was a poor welcome to people driving towards Belfast International Airport.

A council officer said that he hoped improvements could be carried out by early October.

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