Northern Ireland news

Footbridge over busy Belfast road to be removed

Roadworks to start on the Saintfield Road Picture by Hugh Russell.

A FOOTBRIDGE over one of Belfast's busiest roads is to be replaced by a pedestrian crossing as part of a £700,000 scheme.

Work on the A24 Saintfield Road scheme is due to begin on Monday July 15.

Upgrade work will include right turn pockets for vehicles turning into Myrtledene Road and Glenhugh Park, the construction of a Puffin crossing to replace the footbridge and a retaining wall at the back of the new footway along Beechill Avenue.

A Puffin crossing uses sensors to check if a pedestrian is walking slower than expected. The sensors can hold the red traffic light for longer if needed.

The crossing can also detect if a pedestrian presses the button for traffic to stop, then walks off, in which case the lights will not change.

Unlike older Pelican crossings, the lights which show pedestrians they can pass are on the same side of the road as the crossing button.

The distinctive footbridge has stood over the road for several decades.

A spokeswoman for the Department for Infrastructure said the changes will improve safety on the road.

"The footbridge has been damaged on several occasions and now requires substantial repair and refurbishment works," she said.

"It also does not meet current standards to facilitate pedestrians with mobility problems and those using prams etc.

"The existing gradient of the ramps/steps does not allow the provision of such a measure.

"The footbridge would also need to be raised to increase the headroom in order to reduce the risk of any future damage caused by a vehicle striking the bridge.

"Once completed the work will improve safety for road users and pedestrians using this busy route."

Only one lane in both directions will be open during the building work. The lanes will also have a 30mph speed limit.

The department said the road will be closed while the footbridge is being removed and during final resurfacing work.

The scheme is expected to be completed by September.

Meanwhile, a new pedestrian and cycle bridge connecting the Comber Greenway and Dundonald Leisure Park has opened.

The bridge, jointly funded by Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council and the Department for Infrastructure, marks another stage in the completion of the Comber Greenway.

The bridge will be lit at night.

Andrew Grieve, from the department, said the bridge "provides walking and cycling access to significant leisure facilities, links communities and contributes to encouraging more active travel in the area."

He added: "This year the Department for Infrastructure completed the most recent phase of widening the Comber Greenway out to Billy Neill MBE Country Park."

"The widened path has produced a more attractive space to allow everyone to share their journey," he said.

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