Belfast roadworks chaos set to carry on for rest of year
The disruption caused by a long-running set of roadworks in east Belfast has been lambasted after it was announced they are to last until the end of the year.
The DUP compared the situation to a "Carry On film" after NI Water announced a key route at Mersey Street will be closed for a full year.
The street is used by many as a shortcut from the Belmont or Holywood Roads to the Sydenham bypass and there has been significant disruption since digging began in January.
East Belfast is one of the busiest areas of road repairs not just in Northern Ireland but also the UK.
Earlier this year, the Belfast Telegraph revealed that the Newtownards Road has been dug up a staggering 500 times in the last five years.
Mersey Street has been closed since January to allow for construction of a new sewer system to alleviate problems with the aging sewage system in the area, protect the Connswater River from pollution and prevent future flooding.
The work was scheduled to finish by May, but it will now last until December.
As well as contributing to greater traffic build-up on the Sydenham bypass, the Holywood Road and Newtownards Road, it is also causing chaos at the weekends as football fans attempt to access Glentoran's home pitch, the Oval, and hampering access to Victoria Park Primary School.
A spokeswoman for NI Water said the delay is due to "unanticipated ground conditions in the area, which have resulted in significant engineering challenges, as well as additional drainage repairs".
East Belfast residents reacted with dismay to the news of the extended works.
Tommy Millen said: "Please tell me this is an early April fool! Our son goes to Victoria Park Primary and it's a nightmare to and from there."
DUP councillor Gavin Robinson is seeking a meeting with the project manager about the delay. He said the work they are doing is important but compared the delays to "a Carry On film".
"Given that the work was due to be completed within a few weeks it is very concerning that Northern Ireland Water has now informed residents that it is going to take an extra six months.
"I have requested a meeting with the project sponsor and will be seeking to establish whether it is possible to make up any time," he said.
A spokeswoman for NI Water said they were investing more than £1m to provide a new storm sewer which will cater for new housing in the area, as well as the refurbishment of existing sewers and removal of rainwater run-off.
"The benefits to the local community include reducing the risk of out-of-sewer flooding, pollution of the Connswater and a sustainable reduction in NI Water operating costs," she said.
"In order to maintain public safety, it is necessary to close the road to through traffic. We recognise that this has a significant impact on commuters, although access for residents will continue to be maintained."
Current roadworks in east Belfast
- Newtownards Road from junctions with Sandown Road to Knock Road is reduced to one lane from 9.30am to 4.30pm.
- Gilnahirk Road will close until Thursday from Lower Braniel Road to Elsmere Heights daily between 9.30am and 4pm.
- Mersey Street closed from Connswater Bridge to Dee Street until December
- Park Parade closed from Ravenhill Road to end until Friday April 10
- Vidor Gardens closed from Victoria Drive to Victoria Road daily from 9am until 4pm until Wednesday April 15.