News that the York Street Interchange scheme in Belfast will now be progressed is good news for businesses and the economy, the Freight Transport Association has said.
Infrastructure Minister Chris Hazzard confirmed today that the £130 million scheme will progress in anticipation of funding becoming available. The project had been put on hold following the Brexit vote as around 40% of the funding was set to come from the EU.
The FTA said at the time that the postponement of the scheme was bad news for transport operators and the economy and its members would be bitterly disappointed if the scheme did not go ahead as planned. Commercial vehicle operators from right across the country consistently state that the M1, M2, Westlink road corridor is the most problematic and costly for their vehicles to navigate.
Seamus Leheny, FTA’s Northern Ireland Manager, said: “FTA was the only transport industry representative to give evidence at the Public Inquiry in November 2015 into the development of York Street Interchange and its economic benefits. The Association said the work would make significant improvements to traffic flow, journey time reliability and emissions and the minister has clearly taken on board our arguments.”
The minister states in today’s announcement: “By removing the traffic bottleneck, the new interchange will improve journey time reliability and road safety for motorists, including freight transport, and support the competitiveness of the Port of Belfast with improved links to the strategic road network.”
He added: “Although the Minister is now saying the project will go ahead, we do not have a timetable as to when the work will start, which could be as far away as 2021. We hope the minister and the Northern Ireland Executive can acquire the necessary funding as soon as possible.”