Northern Ireland news

Further work ordered on York Street Interchange plans

Roads minister Nichola Mallon has asked consultants to report back in the autumn

FURTHER work has been ordered on plans for a major road scheme at Northern Ireland's busiest junction.

Infrastructure minister Nichola Mallon has asked consultants to report back in the autumn on how the York Street Interchange on the northern edge of Belfast city centre can be "future-proofed".

The project aims to address a major bottleneck by replacing junctions connecting the Westlink, M2 and M3.

A "short, sharp review" was ordered by Ms Mallon last summer in an effort to "deliver better connectivity, improve health and wellbeing, tackle the climate crisis and to ensure it is future proofed".

She has now accepted the six recommendations and asked consultants to carry out further work "around place making and to maximise ambition in terms of what can be delivered for communities, connectivity and the wider living places agenda".

Roads expert Wesley Johnston said if the updated plans include a change of design there will have to be another public inquiry.

"The design was done about 10 years ago. The minister hasn't detailed what changes she wants to make.

"I would foresee it will make it look less like a motorway junction."

It has been suggested that underpasses, similar to those inserted into the Westlink, could be used to allow traffic to flow freely between the two motorways and M1 gateway.

"(Construction) will be at least two years away. The Executive hasn't allocated the project any money, it is still at the drawing board stage."

Ms Mallon said the review will "take into account the further development of Belfast as we reimagine how the city will look and feel in the future".

"As we move towards a greener recovery, it is important that we consider the future of our city and maximise the benefits this strategic project can deliver for our economy, environment and importantly the local community."

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