Posted by: wesleyjohnston | October 2, 2012

What’s Going On on College Avenue, Belfast?

Much was made in the Belfast Telegraph last Thursday about a new set of roadworks that appeared on Wednesday on College Avenue, Belfast (here, although erroneously labelled “Millfield” on Google Maps) and how this was making September’s well-publicised congestion even worse. The article suggests that even the DRD were unable to say what the works were for, or who was carrying them out. If this is true it would be surprising since it is the DRD itself that is carrying out work on College Avenue as part of the Belfast on the Move sustainable transport measures.

So what’s going on?

College Avenue is a relatively new street, having been built in the 1980s in order to link the northern half of Belfast’s half-finished inner ring road to the street system to the south. The strange 45° angle of the road compared to the surrounding streets is the giveaway.

The sustainable transport proposals affect a number of streets in the city centre – College Avenue is the northern limit of the changes, as can be seen on this map of the affected roads. College Avenue is the pink road running at an angle just above Belfast Institute.

College Avenue currently has two lanes each way for general traffic, and car drivers will be relieved to hear that this is going to be maintained. However, the works that are currently happening involve widening College Avenue in order to provide a southbound bus lane. This is being achieved by a combination of four methods:

  1. Reducing the width of the footpath on the east side.
  2. Making the central reservation thinner.
  3. Closing up the right-turn lane that allows northbound vehicles to turn right into King Street.
  4. Preventing southbound vehicles turning right into College Square North by removing the right-turn lane.

You can see this more clearly by comparing what exists today…

…with what the final result will be:

The work is due to happen during October (when the impact on traffic will be on the northbound side) and November (when works will move to the southbound side). According to the DRD, the northbound works will result in a lane closure (two down to one) at all times, but the November works should only involve lane closures at off-peak times. So the next four weeks will be the worst of it.

The fact that even the Belfast Telegraph could not determine what these works were about when they first happened suggests that the DRD needs to engage much more with the public about what is happening, and when, to avoid the public getting unnecessarily angry and frustrated. Such controversial projects deserve the highest levels of public awareness campaigns.

After this, the work is likely to move on to implementing the one-way gyratory system around the area of Belfast Institute (see top map). This one is likely to cause even more confusion, so hopefully DRD will put additional effort in to giving the public plenty of advance warning about these works.

Those interested can read about the works in more detail, and keep up-to-date with progress, on my web site or alternatively on the DRD’s own web site.


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