A car is carefully making its way down a road just outside of Raphoe. You can see the right side of the saloon dip slowly and then rise again, as the car’s tyres drive into a pothole and come up the other side, only to meet another pothole a few feet down.
“Look at the way she’s bouncing through it,” said local man Gary McCullagh.
Gary is one of a group of local residents who wanted to show the Democrat the roads they drive on a daily basis. This is the area where residents met with local politicians last August to seek help for roads. Council crews have been to the area to do some paving and fill potholes in the months since, but serious problems remain.
Earlier on Friday, Gary drove a visitor along area roads to point out some of the most badly pocked stretches. Even with Gary slowing the car to a crawl to negotiate potholes, the bouncing made it difficult for his passenger to write while the car was moving.
“What they tarred was good,” Gary said. “But this is really bad here now. This is savage here.”
Gary and local residents know the roads well, so they know where to slow down. But Gary said, “If you didn’t know the road and there was rain, you’d just go straight into it and you’ll break your car.”
Some deep potholes appear just as the road bends, which means a driver coming in one direction could come around a bend to find another driver who is on the wrong side of the road in order to avoid another pothole. One particularly well-known pothole on the Beltony road stretches 12 feet across.
“Everyone knows to go slow – maybe that’s why there are no accidents,” said Karl Murtagh, who lives on the New Row road. He said, “a 10-minute journey into town now is going to take 25 minutes.” Karl said he has taken his good car off the road and now uses a four-wheel drive jeep because of the state of the roads.
A local walker said he counted 1,050 potholes along the two-miles stretch between Beltony and Figart, “not counting the small ones”, Gary said. The area includes such roads as the road known locally as New Row, the roads to Figart and Castlefin, the road to Convoy and the Beltony road. For the people who live in this area, these are the roads they must drive on a daily basis just to get in and out of their communities.
“It’s just not fair, so it’s not,” said a local woman who did not wish to be identified. “If it was one road, but it’s numerous roads, in and out.”
Many people said they are regularly on the phone with council offices in Lifford. County councillors from the Stranorlar Electoral Area also regularly raise the issue of electoral area roads at council meetings. But the system of allocation of roads funding that elected members approved means that electoral areas with the most miles of road get the most money. That system leave Stranorlar with less money than the other electoral areas, despite local councillors’ argument that their roads are most in need of repair.
Patrick McBride has lived in the area all his life and said he has never seen the roads as bad as they are now. He recently had to replace all four wheels on his son’s car. “They were all bent,” he said.
“People are fed up at this stage,” said a local woman. “When you go to tax your car, when you go for your NCT, everything has to be 100 percent. Why shouldn’t our roads be 100 percent?”
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