Commuters have been warned to prepare for disruption in Belfast city centre on Monday as the second phase of a controversial roads scheme gets under way.
Work on the next section of the Department for Regional Development’s Belfast On The Move |project starts and Roads Service has urged drivers who do not need to travel via the city centre to use alternative routes.
Members of the public who have to pass through the city are advised to leave extra time to make the journey.
The first phase of the Belfast On The Move project — aimed at making the city more accessible—led to gridlock misery for motorists last September. The roadworks include the introduction of bus lanes in Great Victoria Street, Wellington Place and May Street, and cycle tracks in Victoria Street and Ann Street. The initial works in the next stage are:
Glyn Roberts, chief executive of the Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association, said he was hopeful last year’s gridlock would not be repeated.
“I’m much more confident this time, I think lessons have been learned from phase one and I think the agencies are communicating,” he said.
A spokeswoman for Translink said it had been working closely with the DRD on the planning for the second phase.
“We appreciate that it takes some time for motorists and commuters to settle into new road systems, however since the first phase of the scheme was completed passenger numbers on Metro services have increased by around 1,500 per day,” she said.
\[Gerry Millar\]Lord Mayor of Belfast Gavin Robinson said a group set up last year to bring together stakeholders in the city with the DRD has improved communication between agencies and stakeholders.
“I think the DRD accept now that is a good course. I know they have productively engaged with them over the last few weeks.
“To start and complete before the summer period it was important from a DRD perspective to start now.”
Mr Robinson added: “It is without question the nature of these works will cause difficulty in the city centre and people will have to think carefully about the routes that they take. But I hope people do see the longterm benefits and accept for the first number of weeks, if there is teething problems, they will be resolved.
“The last thing I want is for the image of the city to be one of inaccessibility when all we are trying to do is encourage people into the city.”
Work will be mainly evening and overnight on Great Victoria Street to College Avenue over the next three weeks, starting at 7pm working through the night to 6am.
Some localised work at the junction of Grosvenor Road/Durham Street will be carried out at off-peak times during the coming working weeks.