Northern Ireland news

Funding for Belfast's York Street motorway interchange in doubt after Brexit vote

Funding for a major motorway interchange linking the Westlink, M2 and M3 is now in the balance after the Brexit vote
John Monaghan

THE future of a project to construct a major new motorway interchange remains in the balance as a result of the Brexit vote.

Infrastructure minister Chris Hazzard said that while he "remains committed" to the proposed York Street Interchange in Belfast, the source of the funding for the project is unclear.

He made the comments in response to written questions from several MLAs on the matter.

Mr Hazzard said: "The York Street project was a strong contender for EU funding, and without substantive guarantees of replacement funding from the Treasury, the Executive's capital budget would be under pressure to replace this lost funding.

"The multi-annual nature of key infrastructure projects demand levels of financial certainty and for a project such as the York Street Interchange - which would be expected to take three to four years to complete - the uncertainties created by leaving the EU do, of course, have serious implications."

The infrastructure minister added: "I remain committed to doing all that I can to deliver York Street. I have also asked my officials to engage fully with the European Commission and to continue to pursue every opportunity to draw down EU funds for the benefit of the north."

The project has already been the subject of a lengthy and expensive public inquiry, held last year.

The inquiry into the proposed exchange, which would link the M2, M3 and Westlink at a cost of between £125-165m, saw heated exchanges about road safety, with a claim that transport officials expect "one to two accidents per week".

Residents have also raised concerns including air quality, access to light and the proximity of added traffic lanes to properties, as well as calling for funds to regenerate areas around North Queen Street.

A memorial to the 15 victims of the 1971 UVF bomb at McGurk's Bar on North Queen Street would have to be demolished if the project goes ahead.

The inspector has yet to report on his findings into the public inquiry, although the department put out a public tender for contractors in the aftermath of the inquiry.

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