York Street interchange ‘not likely’ to relieve accident chaos

Traffic was snarled up on Belfast's Westlink on Tuesday after a lorry shed its load
Traffic was snarled up on Belfast's Westlink on Tuesday after a lorry shed its load

Any effect the new York Street interchange would have on relieving traffic chaos caused by accidents on the Westlink has been played down by the Department of Infrastructure.

The scheme, which is intended to remove the bottleneck at the junction of the Westlink, M3 and M2 motorways, was put to consultation on Tuesday after being temporarily derailed.

Given the massive tailbacks caused by a lorry shedding its load on the Westlink on Tuesday night, Minister Chris Hazzard’s announcement that the scheme was back on track could not have been more welcome.

However, when the Department of Infrastructure was asked if it would now consider fast tracking the project, they played down the effect it would have at relieving pressure following an incident on an approaching road.

A Department for Infrastructure spokesman said: “Any incident on the strategic road network around Belfast has the potential to block traffic lanes and cause considerable disruption.

“The York Street Interchange scheme is intended to remove the bottleneck at the junction of the Westlink, M3 and M2 motorways and will reduce delays under normal traffic conditions.

“It is not likely to a provide any relief to traffic congestion caused by an incident on the approaching roads, such as Westlink.”

PSNI defended its response to Tuesday’s traffic chaos.

Roads Policing Inspector Rosie Leech said: “When an incident interrupts the flow of traffic on a major arterial route there will always be difficulties for the ordinary road network accommodating such a large number of displaced vehicles. We will continue to work with our partner agencies in a co-ordinated approach to implement coping mechanisms aimed at dealing with such occurences.”

Meanwhile, a massive sink hole in Japan which swallowed five lanes of traffic and two footpaths was repaired within a matter of days.

On our Facebook page Mark Geddis said: “There has been a sinkhole bigger than that in Belfast since about 1981 and they have yet to fix it. The authorities like us to call it ‘The Westlink’.”