Road schemes finally get go-ahead yet keep hitting legal problems

News Letter editorial
News Letter editorial

In the Tweets of the Day section below, we reproduce a message by Wesley Johnston, who runs a website that examines progress on new road schemes.

Mr Johnston does not work in the roads industry, he is merely an enthusiast, but a very informed one: when he says there is a risk that the York Street interchange will not get built, that is a worrying comment.

That the junction needs to be upgraded at all is an illustration of shortsighted modern road building. When the M1 and M2 were built in the 1960s and 70s, they were first-class infrastructure that needed little later improvement.

The Westlink, in contrast, was at capacity shortly after completion in the early 1980s, and needed a massive overhaul including flyover junctions 20 years later. The A1 was built as piecemeal stretches of dual carriageway with deadly gap junctions, which all need removed.

The M2 and M1 should have been linked seamlessly in the 1980s, although preventing terrorism did soak up money for infrastructure. Now however, when at long last there is money for key road upgrades including the A5, A6 and York Street they keep running into legal issues. Not all the issues are the same but it does nonetheless raise the prospect of serial incompetence when it comes to paperwork, or if not that then excessive legalese.

Let us hope we get a more full-proof way to advance future schemes. And let us hope we soon get ministers who can sign off schemes, not just empowered civil servants.