We’ve been looking through the minutes of ABC’s last meeting with the Department for Infrastructure to see if we’re making any inroads on the upkeep and maintenance of the Black Paths.
ABC Council met with DFI (Roads) on the 23rd October 2023. DFI are responsible for the upkeep of the Black Paths. They also made the decision to quickly demolish the bridge at Moylinn in Feb 2023 . The minutes of the meeting can be found here
DfI presented their report and indicated some work will be happening on the Black Paths.
Here are some of the relevant tables from the report.
Cherry Walk & Mandeville
Cherry Walk starts at the side of the leisure centre, goes under Lake Rd and Drumgor West Rd and goes all the way past Drumgor Primary School. It’s currently in really poor condition and is one of the busiest sections of the Black Paths. Any improvement on this section is welcome.
The Mandeville Rd. section most likely refers to the abandoned underpass that goes under the Knockmenagh Rd, in the Parkway area. It continues along the A27 before going under the A27 using another abandoned underpass. This area of the network has been almost totally lost to nature. Any improvement on this section would open up access to Mandeville Manor and the current paths leading into Portadown. It’s unclear if they will also upgrade the paths leading to the old (abandoned) Lisnisky Rd - running between roundabouts 6–7, leading toward Craigavon Hospital. Parts of the network terminate here (see map).
Opening up this area to active travel would be a great new addition to the Black Paths and would ensure all new housing developments in the Mandeville area would have access to the network. Planning approval for any developments in the area should make this one of the planning criteria.
We would like to see more specifics on all this work.
There seems to be a committment to progress a new bridge at Moylinn but with no design, no money and no planning this could start to drag out for years. However, John O’Dowd MLA has been announced as the new minister at the Department for Infrastructure. If you were at the recent talk you may be aware that he attended the presentations and has shown a lot of interest in the Black Paths - he’s a regular user.
He also remiinded the room that the new minister for Infrastructure is committed to spend 10% of the department’s budget on active travel (part of the Climate Change Bill). That’s around £80M per year. The Black Paths could see the benefits of that increased spending very quickly – but councillors and MLAs need to press the new minister to make this one of his active travel priorities.
When we hear more we’ll update the website.