Thousands back petition from grieving girlfriend for upgrade of ‘lethal’ A1 road
THE girlfriend of a man killed on the A1 said she had “nowhere else to go” after launching a petition to bring forward improvements on the road.
Ciara Sands (25) lost her partner Karl Heaney (27) in a crash in May.
The grieving Newry woman had planned to travel to England to live with the GAA player, where he was due to begin a teaching course.
But tragedy struck when Karl was travelling home from GAA training on the section of carriageway between Banbridge and Dromore.
“We were together for threeand-a-half years and had planned to move over to London,” Ciara told the Belfast Telegraph.
She said Karl usually didn’t want to “jinx” himself by getting too excited about their plans.
“But even he was believing in himself and believing that it was what he deserved. He deserved his chance to be a PE teacher,” she added.
The latest victims on the road were an 87-year-old man and his 47-year-old stepdaughter last month.
Six months on from the tragedy, Ciara said lack of meaningful communication between the Department for Infrastructure and Karl’s family prompted the petition.
More than 6,000 people have signed it within the space of a few days. A Facebook page: ‘A1: How Many Must Die?’ has also been created.
Ciara added: “If the road was in the best possible shape it could be, we don’t think accidents would happen as much as they do.”
Gap junctions have been a major cause of concern on the A1. Proposals from the department show that vehicles would be unable to make right turns on the road, something Ciara would welcome.
She believes if these plans had been implemented already, her Ciara Sands with partner Karl Heaney
partner’s life could have been saved. “When Karl died, his parents were looking to speak to someone about it,” she said.
“They searched online who the minister was for looking af- ter the road, but of course at the minute, there’s nobody. The Department for Infrastructure have been giving us the same statement only rehashed over and over again. We just want to know why it’s taking so long. We need answers, actual answers.”
There are further fears that with legal challenges regarding land ownership, upgrade plans for the A1 could be delayed further.
DUP MLA Carla Lockhart said that it’s possible that work could be put back to beyond 2021.
“This needs to happen urgently,” Ms Lockhart said.
“I’ll be continuing to press the department in this regard.
“They need to expedite sorting any land queries that still exist and progress needs to be made.”
Asked whether an Executive would help speed up the process, Ms Lockhart said it was vital there were ministers in place to steer departmental direction.
Karl’s mother Monica echoed Ciara’s comments, adding that it was a cross-border issue.
“Everybody talks about that road but we don’t do anything about it,” she said.
“I wanted people to come together and voice their opinion about it.”
The Department for Infrastructure said: “A significant amount of development work has already been progressed for A1 Junctions Phase 2 road improvement scheme.”