30/10/2008

Westlink Christmas Present Promised

The much-anticipated third lane of the busy Westlink in Belfast could be open for use by the end of November - but will certainly be in use by the festive break.

Roads chiefs have pledged that the extra lane will be open by Christmas at the latest, but are in fact hoping that it will be ready for use in four weeks.

A spokesman for the Department of Regional Development (DRD) has also responded to criticism about the lane being closed for no apparent reason: "There is work going on that they can't see and it means that the contractor needs intermittent access to parts of the carriageway," he said.

Frustrated motorists who complained of sitting in congestion on the Westlink while lanes stretch empty on either side.
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Speaking for DRD - the project sponsor for the Westlink scheme - Roy Spires, said there is still work going on in the third lane on each side so they can't be made available to motorists until the end of November.

"It would be inappropriate to make it available one day and cone it off tomorrow, to cone it off in the morning and open it in the afternoon.

"That's not realistic and it's not good for traffic. The contractors need access and working space to carry out work on signing and communications," he said.

"I am targeting full completion of that bit by the end of November and we're hoping to make it available before Christmas.

On the northern approach, he also revealed that all the infrastructure work on the M2 should also be completed by the end of January, but the third lane coming in from Glengormley is likely to be closed for a number of months.

(BMcC)

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