Radical shake up for traffic in Belfast City Centre announced
Transport Minister Conor Murphy today launched the consultation process for an ambitious Traffic Masterplan for Belfast city centre entitled ‘Belfast on the Move’.
It aims to substantially reduce traffic levels in the city centre and provide more road space for public transport, pedestrians and cyclists.
The Minister said: “Belfast city centre has been transformed in recent years with major regeneration and retail redevelopments. A thriving city centre needs a transport system that not only encourages the use of more sustainable transport to reduce congestion but also enhances the environment for those who shop, visit, work and live in Belfast city centre.
“Around 30,000 vehicles per day travel through the city centre on the streets either side of City Hall. About 60% of this is through traffic, with no final destination in the city centre causing needless congestion. This Traffic Masterplan for Belfast aims to substantially reduce those traffic levels and provide more road space for public transport, pedestrians and cyclists.
“My vision is to achieve a city centre where access by public transport is given a much higher priority, and to create a safe street environment tailored to the needs of pedestrians rather than the private car. Over 40% of households in Belfast do not have access to a private car and therefore rely on public transport. For the city centre to thrive, people need to be able to access goods and services swiftly and efficiently and public transport will play an increasingly important role in this as non essential traffic is redirected away from the central area.
“The Belfast on the Move proposals will promote a safe, sustainable and efficient transport system within Belfast City Centre. ”
The proposed ‘Sustainable Transport Enabling Measures’ will require the redistribution of available road space in the city centre in favour of public transport, pedestrians and cyclists. Improvements will be made to the road network to the west of the central area to provide an alternative route for northbound traffic. The longer term objectives of the Masterplan are to remove through traffic from the streets around City Hall so that it can be linked directly to Donegall Place and to improve public transport by facilitating cross-city bus routes and future Rapid Transit routes.
The Masterplan sets out the phased proposals which include:
· Northbound through traffic re-routed from Great Victoria Street onto Hope Street and Durham Street with south bound traffic continuing to use Great Victoria Street. Grosvenor Road will become one-way westbound and College Square North one-way eastbound.
· The redistribution of existing road space will provide extensive bus priority measures for use by public transport, taxis and cyclists.
· The delivery of 20 new controlled pedestrian crossing points; about 2.6km of new bus lanes which will also accommodate cyclists and taxis; 340m of new dedicated service bays; 1km of new dedicated cycle lanes and over 40 additional dedicated disabled parking bays.