Belfast Telegraph

New £10m speed system for Westlink is first on our roads

By Emily Moulton

Speed cameras could be installed on the M1/Westlink to police motorists as part of a new £10m traffic control system.

Drivers travelling along the key access route will have to obey variable speed limits in a bid to ease congestion on the normally busy road.

It is the first time such a system has been applied to route in Northern Ireland. Similar systems operate on the M25 in London and the M42 in Birmingham.

Sensors have been installed on the carriageways between Blacks Road and Clifton Street which calculate the number of cars using the motorway as well as the optimum speed for traffic to travel.

This ‘optimum’ speed will then flash up on electronic signs at the gantries and drivers must drive at that speed.

Currently, there is no way to ensure motorists will stick to the changing mandatory speed limits, but the installation of speed cameras has not been ruled out.

Road Services network traffic control manager Brian Maxwell said discussions had taken place between the Roads Service and the PSNI in the development stage but nothing has been confirmed.

“We have consulted with colleagues in the police service all the way through the design process and the enforcement is a police responsibility and they will be doing that through their normal traffic patrols,” he said.

“The system could be further enhanced to include automatic camera enforcement, but we are waiting to see how the normal policing patrol enforcement evolves. Speed cameras won’t be installed at the moment, but I would not rule it out in the future.”

CCTV cameras, however, have been placed at particular points to monitor traffic.

Mr Maxwell said the Roads Service installed the new system in a bid to help manage the flow of vehicles on the key access route.

He explained it had always been part of the original plans, but could not be implemented when the Westlink first opened.

“We had to collect data for the system, that is why it did not open at the same time as the Westlink,” he added.

Mr Maxwell said the system should also help to improve safety on one of Northern Ireland’s busiest routes.

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