13 March 2006

Road warning as Westlink work begins in earnest


A West Belfast councillor has warned motorists to prepare themselves for extended delays on the roads as work on the Westlink begins in earnest today.

And as the £104 million overhaul of the busy route gets underway, northbound traffic will be unable to turn right from the Westlink on to the Grosvenor Road.

Drivers heading into the city will have to exit either at the Divis Street or Broadway turn-offs.

Those travelling southbound will be unable to turn right towards the Royal Victoria Hospital.

Councillor Tom Hartley said that it was vital that drivers “planned ahead" to avoid traffic meltdown.

“It’s important that motorists think about their journey before they leave the house. If they can leave earlier or use a different route, then they should.

“If you’re unfortunate enough to be a cyclist like me, then it might be an idea to think about that option."

Cllr Hartley also warned that morning school runs could seriously slow down traffic flow and advised that parents organise “alternative methods".

“8.30am to 9.30am is the busiest time on the roads because of parents leaving their children to school. If parents maybe get together and organise groups of older children to maybe walk to school, that would help to alleviate the burden. Also, if children could share lifts, then it would also help ease congestion.

“Most importantly of all, I hope that the taxi and traffic lanes are going to be kept clear – they will be vital in the coming years to take pressure off the traffic system. If just one driver parks in a bus lane, it immediately closes it off. That’s bad enough at the best of times but in these special circumstances, it would have very serious implications."

Roy Spiers of the Roads Service said motorists should leave extra time for their journey.

“It will be difficult until motorists become familiar with the traffic arrangements that are in place," he said.

“I would encourage them to allow extra time for their journeys on Monday morning until they know what is actually happening and become familiar with their route."

The work, when completed in 2009, will create three continuous lanes on the M1 and Westlink between Blacks Road and Divis Street.

The Westlink carries 65,000 motorists every day and is the North’s busiest route.

Two lanes will be maintained in both directions throughout the work from 6am until 10pm on Monday to Saturday and from 11am on Sundays.

Motorists can sign up for email notifications of traffic disruption on www.roadsni.gov.uk/westlinktrafficalert.

Journalist:: Staff Journalist

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