Westlink & M1 upgrade Belfast -
Past Progress Reports Mar 2007 - Jun 2007

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This is a sub-page giving additional information on the Westlink upgrade.

This page is an archive of old progress reports.

For the final progress reports, after late July 2008, click here.

For the progress reports from February 2008 to early July 2008, click here.

For the progress reports from October 2007 to February 2008, click here.

For the progress reports from July 2007 to September 2007, click here.

For the progress reports from December 2006 to February 2007, click here.

For the earliest progress reports, up to November 2006, click here.

17 Jun 2007

Photo 1 below shows the scene at Stockman's Lane. The new northbound bridge is now carrying all 4 lanes of the M1. Whilst work is continuing on the northbound sliproads, work has now begun on construction of the foundations for the new southbound bridge. From here to Broadway, the M1 has now been moved over onto the newly widened lanes to the east of the motorway. Photo 2 shows the scene southbound here. This has left a large area around the original central reservation free for the reservation to be moved over slightly to allow the northbound carriageway to the widened. (The presence of the Bog Meadows nature reserve to the west of the M1 means that all widening must be on the east). At Broadway, the roundabout has been elongated to the south to allow continuing piling works. Work on the rivers appears close to completion at long last. To the north of the roundabout, the northern approach to the underpass is largely excavated and work seems to have begun on some excations in the centre of the roundabout, perhaps in preparation for construction of the "permanent slab" that will eventually carry the roundabout over the underpass. Widening works to the Westlink around Roden Street is progressing well with new edging kerbs now in place along about half the route, replacement walls on adjoining properties are going up, and the pillars for the new Roden Street footbridge are now in place. Finally, at Grosvenor Road, work on preparing the underpass for traffic has progressed with a solid road base now laid beneath the flyover and the final, aesthetically pleasing, sides to the underpass continuing to take shape. See photos 3 and 4 below. Work is continuing in all areas at a feverish pace.

Photo 1 - Stockmans Lane on 17 June with the new northbound bridge on the left, and a crane placing foundations for the future southbound bridge.

Photo 2 - The newly widened M1 southbound approaching Stockman's Lane.

Photo 3 - The view north at Grosvenor Road - the solid road base is now in place.

Photo 4 - The view south at Grosvenor Road with the dressing being placed on the underpass walls.

2 Jun 2007

At Stockman's Lane, the new northbound flyover opened without fanfare last weekend. While a road accident on the new flyover did occur within a few hours of opening, it has otherwise been a smooth transition. Half of the now-closed flyover was demolished that same weekend, with the remainder being demolished this weekend. Since the timetable given at the start of the whole project was June 2006 to Jan 2008 it will be interesting to see if the second bridge goes up more rapidly than the first. At Roden Street, work has begun on the re-routed Europa busway which will eventually go all the way to Broadway instead of joining at the Roden Street lights as at present. At this stage, work is only taking place on the section at Roden Street which needs diverted slightly. There will eventually be an onslip to take buses directly onto the southbound Westlink at Roden Street. At Grosvenor Road, with work now just 9 months from anticipated completion, workers are still putting the final aesthetic coating on the sides of the underpass. Up-to-date pictures can be gleaned from Wilson Nesbitt's live traffic cam at this site. There will be no updates here over the next two weeks. The whole project is, in time terms, 40% completed with.

23 May 2007

At Stockman's Lane, the opening of the new northbound bridge has been delayed by a week and will now come into use this weekend (26-27 May). The southbound bridge will be demolished in two phases that weekend, and the weekend following. However, work is still continuing on the northbound sliproads and this is likely to continue even when work starts on the southbound side. At Roden Street, widening works are very evident. Photo 1 below shows the view towards Broadway from here. The concrete wall on the right is the edge of the future carriageway, showing just how much wider the new road will be here (3+3 lanes + offslip to Mulhouse Road at this point). Photo 2 shows the view in the other direction from the footbridge. The piers for the new, wider, footbridge are visible ahead. The onslip taking the Bus Lane out from the Europa Bus Centre onto the Westlink is visible on the right, beyond the new bridge, and this will remain in place once the new road is completed. At Grosvenor Road, the underpass has now been fully excavated and work on the road itself has begun - part of the central reservation is in place at the southern end of the underpass. Meanwhile, workers are putting the final concerete facing onto the sides of the underpass. Photos 3 and 4 show this area. The new bridge itself now has a concrete surface on it, but as yet no parapet.

Photo 1 - Westlink looking towards Broadway from Roden Street on 20 May 2007. [Wesley Johnston]

Photo 2 - View northbound from Roden Street footbridge towards the new footbridge piers. [Wesley Johnston]

The view north at Grosvenor Road on 20 May 2007, showing the fully excavated underpass and partially constructed bridge. [Wesley Johnston]

The view south at Grosvenor Road on 20 May 2007, showing part of the future central reservation in the distance, and the addition of cladding on the sides of the underpass. [Wesley Johnston]

16 May 2007

Two interesting developments this week. Firstly, at Stockman's Lane the citybound bridge is finally complete and will be brought into use on Monday 22nd May. Although the retaining walls for the citybound slip roads are not yet complete, all 4 lanes of traffic will be transferred to the new bridge by Monday morning. This will presumably be shortly followed by the demolition of the countrybound bridge and construction of the new, wider bridge. Secondly, at Roden Street, the first pillars for the new footbridge appears to be in place. The new bridge is on the other side of Roden Street from the existing bridge. All traffic in this area is now running in the centre of the site as widening works take place at the sides. I am hoping to get more photographs within the next week or so. In time terms, the scheme is now 37% complete.

10 May 2007

One day after devolution was restored, the new Regional Development Minister Conor Murphy visited the Westlink site and issued an informative press release highlighting progress to date:

• The citybound bridge at Stockman's Lane will be completed within "weeks", after which M1 traffic will transfer onto it while the new bridge is built for the southbound carriageway.

• At Broadway, he confirmed that most of the work to date has been in diverting "a vast array of underground services" which "have not been seen by the public".

• At Grosvenor Road, all service diversion and piling works are completed and the underpass is well underway and on schedule for completion in just 10 months (March 2008).

• He also asserted that "the widely predicted traffic congestion has not materialised due to the sensible way the public have adapted...". Drivers can judge that for themselves.

The press release also gives some interesting trivia about the project to date:

• 500,000 hours worked on site to date

• 25,000 cubic metres of spoil has been excavated from the site

• 27,000 cubic metres of concrete has been poured

• 1,222 concrete piles of average length 18 metres have been formed - a total of 14 miles

• 590 tonnes is the weight of the temporary bridge at Grosvenor Road.

6 May 2007

At Stockman's Lane, work still seems to be stalled at the point of reconstructing the banks for the northbound sliproads and the surface on the bridge. If the other bridge here takes as long as this one, then the project is behind schedule. At Broadway, the culverting process has advanced with the northbound offslip to the smaller Donegall Road roundabout closed as the culvert is extended across it. From what I can see the Blackstaff culvert along and under the eastern side of the roundabout is completed, and the work now is to build the connector to bring the Clowney Water south along the western side of, and then under, the M1. On the Westlink proper, around Roden Street, widening works have definitely started, well in advance of the original timescale (see table at top of page) which said that this work would begin in February 2008. The whole site at Roden Street has been cleared back many metres and the new road foundations are being prepared. Finally, at Grosvenor Road, there is quite a bit of progress. The underpass has now been almost completely excavated, the initial concrete surface has been constructed on top of the new bridge, and most of the western approach ramp has been completed and infilled. Only the gap between the ramp and the bridge, where live traffic is currently flowing, is not built. This must wait until traffic has been diverted under the flyover. I have no photos this time, but pictures of the Grosvenor Road junction as well as a live webcam are to be found here at the Wilson Nesbitt web site.

15 April 2007

Perhaps due to the holidays, there is not a much evident change over the past month, although perhaps work has taken place that is not obvious to observers. At Stockman's Lane, work has progressed on the two northbound sliproads. Judging from the presence of vehicles on the bridge (see photo) it now seems to have at least a basic surface. However, there is still no sign of actual tarmac being laid on the bridge so it looks like it will be some time yet before it opens and work can commence on the other bridge. The lorry advertised that it was carrying out "waterproofing" works and the bridge was covered with white plastic sheeting. On the M1 between Stockman's Lane and Broadway, the foundations for the widened carriageway (being constructed on the eastern side) look largely completed with kerbs and drains in place. Presumably a layer of tarmac is not far off. Whether or not the third lanes will actually be brought into use before the rest of the scheme is completed is not clear - if the junctions on either side are unable to cope with the three lanes, then it would simply cause congestion. At Broadway, so huge amounts of work are taking place in the centre and south side of the junction - new rectangular culvert sections are stacked up to the south west side of the roundabout so this suggests that the culverting is still ongoing. On the north side of the junction, some excavation has taken place on the future underpass, although this only goes down to a depth of couple of metres (the final depth in the centre will be about 7 metres). At Roden Street, the carriageways have been realigned slightly and the whole area on each side has been cleared - nothing has risen above ground level however. At Grosvenor Road, half of the material has been excavated from under the recently-constructed bridge (on the other side from that shown in the photo). Work is also continuing on the approach ramp on the western (Falls) side of the flyover. Interestingly, the north side of the western ramp here appears to be a vertical retaining wall rather than an embankment, and also appears to incorporate a concrete wall extending above road height - this may be a future noise barrier to protect the houses nearby. In time terms, the whole project is now ONE THIRD (34%) complete, and there are two years to go until the roads are fully opened.

Stockman's Lane on 14 Apr. The lorry suggests that at least some kind of surface now exists on top of the bridge. [Photo by Wesley Johnston]

Looking north along the Westlink from Broadway roundabout on 14 Apr. Traffic is running on both sides of this area, which is the future underpass. Works have begun to excavate this area. [Photo by Wesley Johnston]

The view north at Grosvenor Road on 14 Apr was largely unchanged from three weeks ago. [Photo by Wesley Johnston]

The view south at Grosvenor Road on 14 Apr. [Photo by Wesley Johnston]

26 March 2007

At some point over the past week the beams have been lifted into place to form the basis of the Grosvenor Road flyover - see picture below. Now the earth beneath the flyover will be removed, the bottom surfaced and ultimately traffic moved into the underpass while the approaches are built.

The Grosvenor Road bridge beams in place on 25 March 2007. [Photo by Wesley Johnston]

19 March 2007

Work on the M1 and Westlink has reached a feverish pace, with work now taking place more or less continuously along the 4km (2.5 miles) from Stockman's Lane to Divis Street. As a result, traffic now has to follow a torturous route through the site, with Broadway and Grosvenor Road in particular presenting real challenges to drivers with sharp bends, rough surfaces and hummocky terrain. Despite this, there have been no serious accidents for several months. All photos here were taken on 18 March.

At Stockman's Lane, work is now underway on building the retaining walls for the northbound offslip and onslip. This is needed because the new motorway bridge is one lane wider, but the sliproad must still join the roundabout at the same location. Picture 1 below shows the northbound bridge, now largely completed except for the road surface, and picture 2 shows the retaining wall for the northbound onslip. On the M1 motorway, the base layers and verge kerbing for the two new lanes on the east side of the motorway are now in place along about 75% of the length. Only the sections close to Broadway and Stockman's Lane are not at this stage. Picture 3 shows the view of this new section from the southbound carriageway. At Broadway, the main area of work is still the river culverting. To the east side of the M1 just south of Broadway the twin culverts that will carry the Blackstaff and Clowney rivers look close to completion, and they lead under the roundabout to the massive overflow chamber which is now being roofed and is sited under the eastern half of the roundabout. Picture 4 shows the start of the M1 seen from Broadway roundabout, and picture 5 shows the view north from Broadway. It seems that once these are completed, the remaining work is to divert the Clowney under the M1 and into the new culvert. This should complete the river diversion process. All the piles now seem to be in place to the north of Broadway, and the piling machine is now working on the south side. At Roden Street, the Bus Lane has now been diverted to join the Westlink a little earlier and a large drilling machine has appeared which is laying foundations of some kind at Roden Street. This may be for the new footbridge, although it would seem a bit of overkill for just a footbridge. We will wait and see. Finally, at Grosvenor Road, the abutments for the new flyover are now taking shape and the retaining walls for the approach ramp on the western (Falls) side has begun. Excavation of the underpass is complete except for the section beneath the bridge and work is continuing on laying the road deck in the underpass. Picture 6 below shows the view north, while picture 7 shows the view south. In time terms, the whole project is now 32% complete.

Picture 1 - the northbound M1 bridge at Stockman's Lane. [Wesley Johnston]

Picture 2 - retaining wall for the Stockman's Lane northbound onslip. [Wesley Johnston]

Picture 3 - Widened M1 motorway taking shape beside the southbound carriageway.
[Wesley Johnston]

Picture 4 - The twin Clowney/Blackstaff culverts under construction beside the M1 motorway, seen looking south from Broadway. [Wesley Johnston]

Picture 5 - North along the Westlink seen from the Broadway roundabout. [Wesley Johnston]

Picture 6 - The view north at Grosvenor Road on 18 Mar 2007 showing the abutments for the new flyover. [Wesley Johnston]

Picture 7 - The view south at Grosvenor Road (the M1 direction). [Wesley Johnston]

7 March 2007

No photos of my own this time although there are some here, taken by Wilson Nesbitt. At Stockman's Lane, the temporary metal supports holding up the girders for the northbound bridge have been removed, so the bridge is now resting entirely on its own slimline reinforced concrete feet, and is looking very well. A retaining wall is taking shape between the M1 and its northbound onslip here, which answers the question of how the widening will affect the sliproad. The sliproad is also being widened. Since all widening between here and Broadway will be on the Boucher side of the M1, the geometry of the M1 will have to change at the point where the sliproad meets the motorway. With no construction work at all having taken place on the road surface above, it seems unlikely that the bridge will be open by the end of March as would be expected from the timescale (see above). Work on widening the M1 itself between Stockman's Lane and Broadway is well underway with evidence of much digging and culverting along the full length of the motorway here. At Broadway, the huge hole in the eastern side of the roundabout appears to hold a large culvert, and this may be the overflow chamber for the point where the Clowney Water and Blackstaff rivers will meet. There is also evidence of more piling work in the centre of the roundabout and, two days ago, the western side of the junction was realigned to allow more piling work to continue. Traffic heading north from Broadway now partially descend the future onslip and then up a sudden ramp back to ground level. The 30mph speed limit really is necessary here. There is also a large excavation on the northern side of Broadway which may be the start of the excavation of the underpass, or may simply be related to more minor construction works. My guess is that the river culverting works are proceeding concurrently with the piling works. Once the piling is completed, the roundabout will be enlarged, construction will begin on the "permanent slab" which will carry the entire roundabout over the underpass, and the roundabout moved back on top of it. After that, the underpass will be excavated. However, this process is still due to take another two years. At Grosvenor Road, the bridge abutments for the flyover are now half erected with work continuing to raise them to the required height. Hurrah! Grosvenor Road junction is now more than half finished, with just 13 months to go until this junction is completed. The project as a whole, in time terms, is now 31% completed.

Other Progress Reports

This page is an archive of old progress reports.

For the final progress reports, after late July 2008, click here.

For the progress reports from February 2008 to early July 2008, click here.

For the progress reports from October 2007 to February 2008, click here.

For the progress reports from July 2007 to September 2007, click here.

For the progress reports from December 2006 to February 2007, click here.

For the earliest progress reports, up to November 2006, click here.