28/10/2010

Ballymena 'Makes Connection' To M2

The official opening of a new £12m stretch of road in Co Antrim took place this morning.

The M2/A26 Ballee Road East dualling scheme near Ballymena, involved the connection of the M2 Ballymena Bypass directly to a a now realigned A26 Ballee Road East dual carriageway.

The improvement to this important route to the North Coast and Coleraine was marked by an official ribbon-cutting ceremony on Thursday.

Roads Service staff, contractors and the Ballymena Mayor attending as NI Transport Minister Conor Murphy welcomed the development.

"This project will deliver significantly improved journey times and safety for all traffic travelling north and south along this route. Many people will now be looking forward to travelling on it and experiencing the important benefits that it will provide.

"This stretch of road is an essential element of the development in the area providing a direct connection between the M2 and the A26 dual carriageway, taking traffic off the Larne Road Roundabout and thus giving the traffic a continuous straight through route.

"The M2 Ballymena Bypass currently carries over 23,000 vehicles per day and the A26 Ballee Road East over 22,000 vehicles per day," he said, noting that the scheme was officially opened by the Mayor of Ballymena Borough Council, Maurice Mills.

The ceremony took place in the same week that Roads Service's progress on other investments - totalling £12.5m - in the Belfast area were being highlighted.
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Minister Murphy noted that strategic road improvement works are being planned at the busy York Street interchange: "Following successful implementation of major works on both the M1/Westlink and M2 Motorways, this scheme will improve traffic flow and road safety on the Westlink, M2 and M3 approaches to this key intersection.

"Following completion of a Preliminary Options Report, six options have been reduced to four and public consultations on these are planned.

"I can also advise that road widening from a dual two lane to a dual three lane carriageway is planned for a 2.5 km stretch of the A2 at Sydenham Bypass.

"This key strategic route linking Belfast and Bangor also provides key gateways to George Best Belfast City Airport, Belfast Port and several large residential areas," he said.

"Consultations with local communities and their public representatives are well advanced and will continue during the design process."

However, he said: "The timescale for construction of these major undertakings is, as always dependant upon completion of the statutory processes, an economic appraisal and availability of funding."

Deputy Divisional Roads Manager, Bertie Ellison also commented and said: "A wide range of local schemes have been successfully planned and delivered in the Belfast city area in the past 12 months.

"These include 'channelisation' and island provision on the Old Holywood Road, street lighting schemes at Roden Street, Dunluce Avenue and Fernwood Street and traffic calming at Cupar Way.

"The ever tightening public expenditure environment in this current year is however challenging.

"Despite this, I remain committed to developing a programme of high priority road improvement and maintenance schemes for the City, so that these can be delivered as resources permit," he said.

(BMcC/GK)

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