Northern Ireland news

Calls for busy east Belfast arterial route to be widened amid complaints lanes are too narrow

Commuters say changes are needed along the route. Picture By Hugh Russell

THERE have been calls for a busy arterial route in east Belfast to be widened amid complaints that the lanes are too narrow.

Commuters on the Cregagh and Woodstock roads say changes are needed along the route after buses are often left unable to freely drive along their designated lanes due to the narrowness of the route.

Earlier this week one commuter onboard a bus travelling towards Belfast city centre posted an image of how the vehicle was stuck in the bus lane due to the heavy congestion in the adjoining normal traffic lane.

She said it was because the lane is "just slightly too small for the bus" adding "this is why the bus lanes don't really relieve traffic along it".

Her tweet prompted numerous messages of complaint with calls for the Department of Infrastructure to "revisit the existing bus lanes to see how they're working".

One Twitter user described it as the "most absolutely stupid and inadequate bus lane in Belfast".

"It's gotten worse over the years as cars seem to have gotten wider," he said.

"Cregagh Road has to change, better infrastructure required for sustainable transport."

Another said: "It needs done properly, footways are very wide and the clearway on the other side needs to be actually enforced. The Cregagh gets gummed up too easily due to narrow lanes and parking".

Roads enthusiast Wesley Johnston said he lived in the area and was "familiar with the issue".

"Cregagh Road is, historically, a road with one lane each way," he said.

"Adding a bus lane required the existing lanes to be narrowed. This works okay at the southern end, but towards the Beersbridge Road it's quite tight.

"If you have an HGV in the all-purpose lane that can be enough to prevent a bus passing.

"It's made worse by the camber of the road, necessary to allow water to run off, which causes such HGVs to lean slightly towards the bus lane, meaning the issue can be at a height.

"I'd also add this is not an issue with every single bus, it's an issue that comes up every so often, probably several times a day in the morning peak.

"The adjacent Castlereagh Road bus lane is less susceptible to these issues as it's a wider road."

But a DfI spokeswoman said there were no plans to alter the lanes along the route.

"This bus lane has been operating on the Cregagh Road for many years and is well used by buses," she said.

"The road is restricted in width and so an issue may arise when, for example, a large vehicle is sitting in traffic in the outer lane and its wing mirrors may be sufficient to stop the bus from passing in the bus lane.

"Widening of the carriageway would require considerable land acquisition and utility alterations.

"Such a scheme would have to compete for the limited funding available and is not currently in the department's programme."

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