Westlink tops list of Northern Ireland's busiest roads
Over 92,000 vehicles use important route daily
Almost 100,000 vehicles use the Westlink on a typical day, it has been revealed.
The road topped a list of the busiest routes in Northern Ireland. The dual carriageway through-pass, which connects the M1 to the M2 and M3 motorways, is a frequent bottleneck for commuters.
On average 92,220 vehicles use the route each day - equivalent to 64 every minute.
Other busy roads include:
- Broadway to Stockman's Lane, where the average daily traffic is 85,800 vehicles;
- Greencastle to Sandyknowes, 65,460 vehicles;
- Stockman's Lane junction, 65,000 vehicles;
- Sydenham by-pass at George Best Belfast City Airport, 58,050 vehicles;
- And Blacks Road to Saintfield Road, 53,190 vehicles.
The details were released by Infrastructure Minister Chris Hazzard after an Assembly question from Foyle MLA Eamonn McCann.
They are taken from 2014 - the most recent year for which figures are available. All of the top 10 busiest roads are in the greater Belfast area.
The list only includes those with permanent traffic census counters.
The M3 Lagan Bridge, which is estimated to carry 90,000 vehicles a day, does not have a permanent traffic counter and does not feature on the list.
The M2 foreshore is so wide that it has to have two traffic counters to cover all 10 lanes.
Its city-bound carriageway and country-bound sections are listed separately - at seventh and eighth on the list.
If added together, its 95,970 total would move the roadway to the top of the list.
Wesley Johnston, who runs the Northern Ireland Roads website, said the statistics were unsurprising.
"These figures again show that the main motorways and dual carriageways serving greater Belfast and its hinterland are the province's busiest roads," he added.
If the Westlink's daily average of 92,220 vehicles is taken across the year, it would equate to a total of around 33.6million journeys.
The southbound section from Grosvenor Road to Broadway was widened to three lanes in 2002. Major upgrade work completed in 2009 extended the third lane to the newly completed Broadway underpass, where the road now seamlessly merges into the M1.
Mr Johnston said it was becoming an increasingly busy route.
"Traffic levels on Westlink have soared since the 2009 upgrade from just under 70,000 vehicles per day to almost 100,000 vehicles per day," he added.
"This shows that the upgrade has done its job of facilitating a lot more journeys, allowing many more people to travel for work, shopping or leisure.
"It also has to be noted that Northern Ireland's first and second busiest roads (the M2 and the Westlink) currently meet at a set of traffic lights on York Street, an issue that urgently needs addressed.
"It is also notable just how much traffic uses the Sydenham by-pass, Northern Ireland's oldest dual-carriageway, which continues to suffer from significant congestion at peak times."