The new Hightown Bridge in Glengormley was opened to traffic this morning, months ahead of schedule.
It replaces the original bridge which carried the Hightown Road across the M2 in the village and is wider with a new right turning lane from the Hightown Road into the Mallusk Road. This is expected to reduce congestion on the traffic signal controlled junction.
The original bridge was closed on January 27 this year and work was expected to take up to a year. The controversial scheme sparked anger among commuters and politicians who warned that the diversions put in place while the work was being carried out would create traffic chaos and hit businesses in Glengormley.
At the time, Alliance Party leader David Ford warned it was not acceptable for the Department to depend solely on the Sandyknowes roundabout to carry all the traffic that relied on the Hightown Bridge.
Then Newtownabbey Mayor Nigel Hamilton had also criticised the project for not being a “joined-up process”.
The scheme has now opened months ahead of schedule after Roads Service and contractor HMC agreed to accelerate the bridge replacement works.
Announcing the opening of the bridge, Roads Minister Conor Murphy said: “Completion of the Hightown Bridge has always been a high priority and its opening ahead of programme is good for residents and businesses in the Glengormley and Mallusk area.”
The Roads Service has also announced that work on improving the M2 is expected to be completed in summer 2009.