Draperstown mum hits out at restricted access to footbridge over Moyola river

Mulnavoo Road footbridge over Moyola River outside Draperstown
Mulnavoo Road footbridge over Moyola River outside Draperstown

New bollards put in place at a popular footbridge outside Draperstown, have sparked safety concerns for parents and disabled users.

The bridge over the Moyola River on the Mulnavoo Road is used by dozens of walkers, runners and cyclists on a daily basis.

But in recent weeks bollards have been placed at either ends of the bridge, in an apparent attempt to stop the misuse of the crossing by vehicles.

One mother, who contacted the Mid Ulster Mail, said she had difficulty getting her push chair up on to the bridge, claiming the access is now too narrow.

“I would walk down that road and over the bridge, maybe two or three times a week,” said the woman who did not wish to be named.

“I have a baby of three months and another child who is just 15 months, so I have a double buggy, and there is no way that I can now get across the bridge.

“What about people who are disabled and have to use a wheelchair, I think the bridge has now become a serious hazard for them. Why have these bollards been put there? If they are trying to stop young boys, they are wasting their time.”

Transport NI, revealed that the bollards were aimed at stopping quads and motorcyclists who were misusing the bridge.

“Transport NI had received complaints from local residents regarding antisocial behaviour involving motorcycles and quads on the bridge,” said a spokesperson.

“The bollards were erected in an attempt to deal with this issue.

“The bridge is located in a rural location and while we are not aware of any access issues, Transport NI is happy to meet with anyone who is experiencing access problems to consider how to fully meet their needs.”

Councillor Brian McGuigan said he too, shared conerns and questioned the motives behind putting them up: “I hope to have a meeting with Transport NI to look at this... if these bollards are there to prevent young boys on quads, then there is real danger that they could risk driving through the river at the ford, which can be very dangerous, when the river is in flood.”

The crossing or ford has been the location of a number of dramatic rescues in recent years. In 2011, a mother and her two children had to be lifted from the bridge by fire crews, after she fled from her car which had become trapped in the river.