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Belfast among most congested cities in Europe, study finds

Published 30/11/2016

Traffic congestion in Belfast is projected to cost the local economy almost £800m by 2025.
Traffic congestion in Belfast is projected to cost the local economy almost £800m by 2025.
An artist’s impression of the proposed York Street Interchange

Belfast is among the most congested cities in Europe, a new study has found.

Traffic analysis company Inrix surveyed road use in 123 cities across 19 European countries by using a wealth of data from the likes of satellite navigations systems, mobile phones and road sensors throughout the past year.

It then ranked the cities in terms of "traffic hotspots," that is when congestion forces the driver to cut their speed by 65% for at least two minutes.

The UK was found to be the worst in Europe with over 20,000 hotspots in cities with a population of 250,000 people or more.

And Belfast was the 10th worst in the UK.

Report authors found that there were 446 traffic hotspots in the city with the worst being the Junction of the West Link and York Street.

The busy Belfast junction carries 100,000 vehicles each day and the Department of Infrastructure is in the process of progressing with the long-awaited York Street Interchange project which will in effect do away with the junctions which snarl up traffic at the point the A12, M2 and M3 converge.

A formal public notice of the department's intention to proceed was the project was made on Wednesday, however, doubt remains over its funding.

The Inrix report also found that congestion in the city is estimated to cost the Northern Ireland economy £800m by 2025.

Graham Cookson, chief economist at Inrix said: "Only by identifying traffic hotspots and analysing their root causes can we effectively combat congestion.”

“Some of the most effective traffic improvement measures have benefited from this approach."

Chancellor Philip Hammond recently made over £250m available to the Executive for infrastructure projects.

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