£4m project to reopen Lagan Canal to Lough Neagh begins
Work has started to revitalise a 19th century waterway created to connected Belfast with Lough Neagh.
The aim of the £4m project is to reopen the route.
Original construction began in the mid-1700s and in its heyday the 27-mile canal was one of the busiest waterways in Ireland.
The scheme will include a navigation lock, a foot and cycle bridge linking Annadale Embankment and Stranmillis, refurbishment of the existing weir, and landscaping with associated path connections.
Representatives from funders Belfast City Council, the Department for Infrastructure (Dfl) and Ulster Garden Villages cut the first sod on the project yesterday.
Councillor Deirdre Hargey said the aim was to help revitalise the Stranmillis area.
"This stretch of the river marks the start of the Lagan Canal and towpath, which is already incredibly popular with walkers and cyclists," she explained.
"By creating a new bridge for pedestrians and cyclists, as well as new pathways, we will improve connections with the surrounding areas and hopefully encourage more people to explore this part of the city on foot and by bike."
Owen McGivern from DfI said works on the weir will start immediately and should be completed by the spring.
"This will include infrastructure repair, upgrading of mechanical/electrical equipment and the replacement of the three sluice gates," he said.
"The weir is required to regulate river flows by providing upstream flood storage at times when the Lagan Weir is in operation and downstream water levels are high.
"This, consequentially, will reduce the threat of flooding to downstream areas."