Road upgrades good for Ulster’s economy and for safety

Morning View
Morning View

For a long period in the 1990s and early part of this century, many of Northern Ireland’s key arterial routes were badly in need of an upgrade.

The A1 from Lisburn to the border was a dangerous disgrace, much of it single carriageway.

The Dungannon to Ballygawley A4 was similarly perilous.

The Westlink was a congestion problem, with bad junctions at Broadway and Grosvenor Road.

Now, gradually, our road infrastructure is improving. Those three routes have since been transformed.

One of the most heavily used single carriageway roads in the Province, the A2 to Carrickfergus between Seapark and Jordanstown, has been widened to dual carriageway.

On Monday, there will be two lanes open in each direction.

Motorists will probably find that this widening leads to a large increase in the traffic build-up at the roundabouts at Whiteabbey and Hazelbank, towards Belfast. Until now, traffic had been pinched before those points, so in one respect the upgraded road will only move congestion further along.

But there is no question that the overall impact of this widening in both directions will be beneficial.

Carrickfergus and the surrounding areas will now get the sort of road connection to Belfast that somewhere with such a population size deserves.

All of these upgrades are good for the Ulster economy, good for relieving the frustration of motorists, and good for safety.

Two more key routes are in the pipeline including the dualling of the A6 Moneynick Road, at the western end of the M22 on the road to Londonderry, and the A26 towards Ballymoney road north of Glarryford, where it becomes single carriageway. The latter scheme is well under way.

Meanwhile, the Larne route is now entirely dual carriageway.

These schemes are a good use of public money. If Northern Ireland agreed to much needed welfare reform, there would be tens of millions of pounds per year extra for such infrastructure.