Northern Ireland news

Traffic chaos for visitors to the Balmoral Show

The crowded car park at the Balmoral Show at the former Maze Prison near Lisburn. Picture by Matt Bohill

THERE was widespread criticism of traffic management at the Balmoral Show despite pledges to fix the road infrastructure.

Long queues to leave the Maze site near Lisburn saw many visitors stuck in their vehicles for hours on Thursday night.

Many hit out at the traffic chaos with some branding it an "absolute shambles".

The show moved from south Belfast to the site of the former Maze Prison four years ago.

But there have been complaints since then about the local road infrastructure.

In 2013, £20m was pledged to construct two major roads linking the new show site to the nearby motorway network.

But the road network remains the same with visitors still negotiating rural roads to reach the site.

With tens of thousands of people visiting the show this week, many were caught up in the traffic chaos as they tried to leave the site.

One woman described how an eight-mile journey home took more than three hours after she was trapped in the car park with her two young children.

She said the car park was basically "one line and one line out".

"You have to be prepared to sit in your car for two to three hour when leaving the show," she told The Nolan Show.

"We got into our car at 6.30pm and we had to go eight miles to get home and we were walking through our front door at 10.10pm.

"That was with young children having spent an extortionate amount of time in the car just bumper to bumper traffic, traffic not moving, no information from any of the organisers about what was happening. how long we could anticipate to continue to wait.

"You were trapped, absolutely trapped with no idea of when you were going to be getting close to the exit to get on the road to get home."

Another women said she was waiting in the car park with her family for four hours.

"We had such a great day out, but the traffic problems were a nightmare and because of it, we won't be back," she said.

But organisers of the show defended their actions and said "measures were in place to manage traffic and help alleviate congestion".

In a statement, the organisers blamed those people who spent longer at the show than usual.

"Due to the fantastic weather show goers spent longer on site enjoying their day at the Balmoral Show," the statement said.

"Our main objective is to allow our visitors to leave the show safely and measures were in place to manage traffic and help alleviate congestion at extremely busy periods."

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