Belfast Telegraph

£165m York Street traffic scheme 'will cause chaos'

By Cate McCurry

Plans to dramatically revamp Northern Ireland's busiest junction have been slammed as a waste of taxpayers' money.

The public inquiry into a scheme to solve traffic gridlock at Belfast's York Street interchange also heard that the £165m proposal will bring chaos to the city.

The York Street Interchange scheme has been designed to allow traffic to flow freely from north to south and east to west in Belfast.

However, the Department of Regional Development's (DRD) ambitious upgrade is estimated to cost between £125 and £165m and will take three to five years to construct. This has attracted criticism from those opposed to the major plan, with some claiming it is dated and flawed.

An industrial engineer appeared at the inquiry into the DRD's plans where he outlined his alternative, cheaper proposal to remove Northern Ireland's biggest bottleneck and reduce congestion in the area.

Paschal Lynch, from Vector Improvements, claimed they could solve the same problem for less than £5m simply by re-routing traffic and removing traffic lights, and increase flow without building anything.

They estimate it would take a six-week trial to prove its effectiveness. "There's an opportunity to save between 30% and 40% waiting time, that's roughly on par with the DRD's scheme and can be implemented in 5% of the time," he told the inquiry.

Barrister Joe Brolly who appeared alongside Mr Lynch and Ciaran Kelly, a development specialist for Vector, said the DRD's scheme will leave the city in "chaos".

Mr Brolly accused the board of not considering all of the difficulties within the scheme after he highlighted the reduced number of lanes for traffic attempting to merge from the Westlink and travel to the M3 and the M2.

"This is inevitable chaos. You don't know what the safety implications will be," he said.

The inquiry inspector, Jim Robb, will consider all the evidence before he produces a report, containing his findings, to the department.

Belfast Telegraph


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