THERE were predictions this week of massive disruption for Dromore motorists if the proposed closure of a string of crossing points on the A1 carriageway gets the go-ahead.
Consultation on the proposal, which is tied in with plans for another six grade-separated junctions, or underpasses, on the carriageway, is at an early stage, but already there are protests that the move will effectively make a motorway of the stretch of road in question.
And that, say opponents, means taking drivers - not least those feeding onto the A1 from any of a number of tributary roads - out of their way and adding to their journey.
The proposal would close the A1's central median from the Hillsborough Road Roundabout, Hillsborough, to the Grovehill Road junction, Loughbrickland.
Consultants appointed by Roads Service to carry out an environmental impact assessment in respect of the proposed closure have written to a wide range of consultees, among them a number of local groups
They include Dromore and District Local Historical Group, Dromore Town Heritage Group, Dromore Walking Group, Listullycurran Rural Development Group and Waringsford and Tulliniskey Rural Community Development Association, at least some of whom were previously consulted regarding the proposed location of the additional planned underpasses.
In their letter, the consultants say, "The median closures will involve the closing of crossovers of the central reservation, which will result in vehicles accessing this section of the A1 only being able to turn left onto and from the A1."
One concerned local said, "They're going to close every crossing point from Hillsborough to Loughbrickland; this is massive.
"To me it's making it virtually a motorway and there'll be huge disruption, particularly for anyone living on certain roads.
"Apart from that, say you were coming from Dromore and you wanted to turn into the Halfway House; you wouldn't be able to. You would have to go past until the next new junction, turn and come back up."
Also among the consultees are Banbridge and Mourne Friends of the Earth, Banbridge Angling Club, Banbridge Community Regeneration Ltd., Banbridge District Council, Banbridge District Tourist Development Association, Banbridge Ramblers' Club, Banbridge traders and the Rathfriland and District Regeneration Company Ltd.
Consultants have been seeking to identify others who should be contacted.
The environmental impact assessment process is in the preliminary stages and while responses to the current round of consultation are required by January 19 next year, further consultation will take place at a later date, as specific issues arise.
Possible sites for additional underpasses include the A1 junctions at Listullycurran Road (between Hillsborough and Dromore), Gowdystown Road, Skelton's Road and Waringsford Road (between Dromore and Banbridge) and Banbridge's Castlewellan Road slip lane.