31/10/2008

Roads Minister Welcomes 'Significant Progress'

With news yesterday that the much-anticipated third lane on Belfast's Westlink is due to open for motorists before Christmas, progress on the overall £multi-million infrastructure redevelopment in the Belfast City Council area this year has been officially welcomed.

Northern Ireland Regional Development Minister Conor Murphy welcomed Roads Service's progress on the investment: "Significant progress continues to be made towards completion of works to improve the M1/Westlink," he said.

"This capital project, worth £104million is on target to be finalised in early 2009 when its full potential will be realised.

"Following the opening of the Broadway underpass in July, work is now nearing completion on the Broadway roundabout," he continued, noting that work is continuing on major road widening works along the M2 corridor with the Hightown Bridge being reopened to traffic four months ahead of schedule.

"Similar bridge replacements over the M2 are progressing well at Collin and Longlands bridges. Both of these bridges are due to be completed early in 2009," he said.

On route to a meeting with representatives of Castlereagh Borough Council last night he also commented: "Preparatory work on the proposed widening of the A55 at Knock Road is ongoing.

"This preliminary but essential work comprises conducting surveys, considering options, traffic modelling and road design.
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"This work will facilitate commencement of the statutory processes which include preparation of an Environmental Statement, a Direction Order and a Vesting Order which should be published for public comment in 2009," he said, noting that other schemes which have been completed this financial year include an Environmental Improvement scheme at Finvoy Street, safety fence replacement at Nelson Street, a collision remedial scheme at the Millfield/North Street junction and a safer route to school scheme at Cavehill Primary School."

Also commenting last night, the Road Service's Deputy Divisional Roads Manager, Kevin Monaghan welcomed the continued investment in local transport and safety measures in the Belfast City Council area.

He said these included traffic calming schemes, measures to assist cyclists and pedestrians, and a programme of school travel and safety projects.

"Roads Service faces some very significant challenges over the next few years as we deal with the ongoing needs for road maintenance, while progressing a demanding programme of strategic road improvements.

"We are also contributing to the work being led by the Department of the Environment, on the implementation of decisions arising from the Review of Public Administration, so that changes to our structure or working arrangements can be planned and implemented smoothly," he said.

Insisting that forward planning and the release of information in advance of work would minimise disruption, he said:

"We will minimise the disruption that may arise from our works and we will give motorists advance warning of roadworks through signage and information prior to works.

"There will also be updated information on our website and radio traffic reports," added Mr Monaghan.

See: Westlink Christmas Present Promised

(BMcC)

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