Department fails to shed light on blockage to York Street road revamp

Image of the proposed York Street Interchange. Circled, to help give perspective, are Yorkgate train station (top) and the nearest of the New Lodge towerblocks.
Image of the proposed York Street Interchange. Circled, to help give perspective, are Yorkgate train station (top) and the nearest of the New Lodge towerblocks.

The Department of Infrastructure has failed to provide any details about a legal hold-up affecting the much-anticipated York Street Interchange.

The interchange essentially involves a massive revamp of the road network where the M2 and M3 motorways meet the north end of Belfast city centre, and is designed to ease rush-hour congestion.

However, it was put on hold by Sinn Fein roads minister Chris Hazzard last autumn.

He blamed Brexit for the decision – saying that up to 40% of the cash for the scheme was meant to come from the EU – before the the Northern Ireland Office said the Treasury will step in to ensure funding for projects of this kind, so long as they are signed off before Brexit happens.
The chances of the scheme going ahead were given a further boost as part of the deal between the Tories and the DUP, when the UK government pledged to give £200m per year for two years to Northern Ireland to help complete the interchange and other projects.

But it has now begun to emerge that there is another hold-up to the scheme.

The Department of Infrastructure confirmed yesterday that the tender process to appoint a contractor “to bring the scheme to a construction-ready stage has now been completed”.

However, the award of the tender “cannot occur at present due to a legal challenge”.

It is thought the legal challenge was actually lodged in late 2016.

The department refused to give any more details.

It also failed to say why it cannot give any more details.