Westlink & M1 upgrade Belfast -
Past Progress Reports Feb 2008 - July 2008

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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 October 2007 to February 2008, click here.

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

For the progress reports from March 2007 to June 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.

4 Jul 2008

The Broadway underpass opened to traffic this morning. Initial reports this morning from commuters were that traffic was still congested on the M1 approaching Broadway, but that it moved more quickly than usual. One commuter travelling to work between 7 and 8am reported a time saving of 30 minutes off a 45 minute journey. Currently two lanes are open through the underpass. The Regional Development Minister has claimed that the underpass has been opened "13 months ahead of schedule". However, this claim seems a little stretched. When the scheme began in early 2006, the work at Broadway was advertised as lasting "three years". This was revised in March 2006 to say that all work on the Westlink would have been completed by August 2009, and that the underpass would open around March 2009. This suggests that the opening is an impressive 6-8 months ahead of schedule, but to say that it is "13 months" ahead appears to be stretch the facts a little! Nevertheless, credit where it's due - the underpass is a magnificent piece of work and has been completed in a very impressive time frame. Well done to all the engineers etc involved. The opening took place on a Friday - traditionally the lightest traffic of the working week - and in July - traditionally the lowest traffic month - so it's not really fair to assess its impact now. That will come in the coming weeks, particularly September. The photos below were taken this morning, around 7.45am.

Traffic using the Broadway underpass for the first time at 7.45am on 4 July 2008. Looking south from the Westlink towards the M1. [Stephen from Belfast]

The start of the M1 motorway seen from the Broadway junction on the day the underpass opened. Taken at 7.45am on 4 July 2008. [Stephen from Belfast]

1 Jul 2008

The Broadway underpass is scheduled to open on Friday, 4 July 2008 according to information released yesterday by the DRD. This is sooner than the schedule advertised a few months ago of "late summer" and considerably sooner than the date of "Mar 2009" advertised in 2006 when the project began. Having travelled through the junction at the weekend I was surprised how advanced the work on the sliproads is, with both the northbound offslip and the northbound onslip very well advanced. It's unlikely that all three lanes through the underpass will open immediately, as there's still work to do at the tie-ins between the sliproads and the main line, but it's likely that at least two lanes will open each way. It's not yet known if the opening will be Friday morning, evening or night. The opening coincides with the "low point" around the Twelfth holiday which is likely deliberate.

15 Jun 2008

In the past week the segregated busway that runs beside the Westlink from Broadway roundabout to Roden Street opened to traffic. This means that the last set of traffic lights (for buses at Roden Street) has now been removed. Traffic can now flow freely (at off peak hours!) from York Street to Broadway without stopping. Despite the fact that the new link is advertised as a segregated busway, in the 5 minutes I stood beside it I saw one car, one van but no buses use the route to access the Europa bus centre (pic 1). Whether or not car drivers can use the new link perhaps needs to be clarified. A tall fence has been constructed between the busway and the Westlink, perhaps to avoid confusing motorists who would see headlights on the "wrong" side of the road in the winter months. Although work must have been progressing over the past month, there is little obvious change on the surface since May. The central reservation now seems to be in place beneath the underpass at Broadway (pic 2). Beside the Broadway flats, a large new wall is being constructed. It consists of a poured concrete wall faced with red brick (pic 3), and is likely to be designed as a sound barrier, as well as a safety and anti-crime barrier. Although the widened M1 motorway is now completed, it remains limited to two lanes each way, even though there's really no reason for the third lane to be closed COUNTYbound now that Stockman's Lane junction is completed. The traffic lights at Stockman's Lane are now operational. The main complaint I've heard is that it is leading to delays at off-peak times. When I was at the junction on a Sunday morning I had to wait for over a minute in a queue, when there was never any queueing on Sunday mornings prior to the lights. However, it is likely that the traffic control officers are monitoring the junction and tweaking the signal timings. If the project is running to schedule we are probably within 12 weeks of the opening of the Broadway underpass.

Pic 1: A car using the supposed "busway" that now connects Broadway roundabout to the Europa Bus Centre on 15 Jun 2008. Note the wooden fence in the distance. [Wesley Johnston]

Pic 2: The view north from above Broadway Underpass  on 15 Jun 2008. The central reservation is taking shape. [Wesley Johnston]

Pic 3: The high quality concrete and brick (sound?) barrier being constructed between the Broadway roundabout and the Broadway flats on 15 Jun 2008. [Wesley Johnston]

23 May 2008

According to Roads Service, the new traffic signals at Stockman's Lane roundabout will be switched on at 7.30pm on Wednesday (28th). This means that both M1 offslips, Kennedy Way and Stockman's Lane itself, will require vehicles to stop at lights. This will hopefully improve traffic flow at the junction. The signals will also feature pedestrian crossing sequences.

18 May 2008

Work continues to proceed at an impressive pace on the scheme. With work now complete at Grosvenor Road, and on the stretch of the Westlink between Mulhouse Road and Grosvenor Road, all eyes are now on Broadway and the stretch of the Westlink between there and Mulhouse Road. The underpass itself is now effectively completed with the tarmac currently being laid, along with the installation of the central reservation (pic 1). However, despite being so well on, the underpass cannot be opened until the four sliproads are sufficiently advanced to give full access to the roundabout above. The southbound offslip is now completed with traffic heading towards the M1 using it (pic 2), but work on the other three sliproads is not quite so advanced. Works currently underway on top of the underpass include the marking out of the final roundabout, with kerbs being laid right round the junction (pic 3), and on the smaller Donegall Road roundabout next door. At the eastern side of the junction, the kerbs at the Boucher Road exit are being re-laid (pic 4) to make way for the future segregated bus lane which is completed as far as the roundabout, but does not yet join it. Once the segregated bus lane opens, the remaining set of traffic lights at Roden Street will be removed. We are still expecting the opening of Broadway underpass to take place in "late Summer 2008". At Stockman's Lane, the junction is nearly completed. The roundabout has had an attractive stone wall built round the centre, new footpaths created, and been re-surfaced. The new roundabout is three lanes wide, signalised and marked out with spiral lane markings (pic 5). Pedestrians will use new dedicated crossings to access the footpaths which run round the centre of the roundabout, rather than the edges as before. It's still not clear what sort of "finish" there will be in the centre of the roundabout. The original plan showed the centre filled with earth up to the height of the bridges, but this does not seem to have happened. Apart from this, the junction is looking essentially complete. Once the traffic signals are activated, navigating it will become much simpler. In time terms, the whole project is now 75% completed.

The view north along the underpass at Broadway on 18 May 2008. [Wesley Johnston]

All southbound traffic now uses the future offslip at Broadway. The underpass is just to the left, and the roundabout behind the camera in this shot on 18 May 2008. [Wesley Johnston]

The completed parapet at the north side of Broadway roundabout on 18 May 2008,

with the "final" kerb line in place. [Wesley Johnston]

Kerbs removed at the Boucher Road exit from Broadway roundabout on 18 May 2008 so that access to the new segregated bus lane (which will run to the left from here) can be built. [Wesley Johnston]

Stockman's Lane roundabout practically completed on 18 May 2008, showing the new three-lane signalised arrangement with spiral lane markings, as well as the attractive stone wall at the centre. Note that the footpath is now the centre of the roundabout. [Wesley Johnston]

14 Apr 2008

Work continues to exceed expectations at Broadway roundabout. The sides of the underpass are almost completed, as are the parapets at each end. Work on constructing the central reservation has begun (at the M1 side) although the foundations are in place all through the underpass. Picture 1 below shows the view north from Broadway roundabout showing the current state of the underpass. The offslip on the north side (ie the southbound offslip) has now been constructed, and is being partially used by traffic (picture 2). At Stockman's Lane, the roundabout has been mostly resurfaced and is now a much less jerky experience! An attractive low stone wall is taking shape on the centre side of the roundabout. The Mulhouse Road junction on the Westlink is now limited to left-in, left-out

movements. Due to roadworks, the sliproads are almost non-existant and this makes using the junction quite hair-raising. The M1 motorway is still reduced to two lanes each way on the upgraded stretch between Stockman's Lane and Broadway. It now seems likely that this will remain for the time being as it provides a "works" route between the two junctions.

Pic 1: Looking north along the future Westlink from the parapet of

Broadway roundabout on 13 April 2008. [Wesley Johnston]

Pic 2: The future southbound offslip as seen from Broadway
roundabout on 13 April 2008. [Wesley Johnston]

1 Apr 2008

The Roden Street / Mulhouse Road traffic lights are being switched off tonight (except to provide access to the Europa bus centre from the Westlink bus lane). From tomorrow morning, traffic will only be permitted to turn left out of Mulhouse Road onto the Westlink (towards the M2) and only be permitted to turn left into Mulhouse Road from the Westlink (coming from the M1). The new footbridge opens at the same time and the pedestrian crossing will also be removed. This effectively removes the second of the three at-grade junctions on this part of the Westlink (the first being Grosvenor Road, leaving Broadway as the only remaining one) and should lead to further improvements in traffic reports. Today at Broadway a serious road accident on the smaller Donegall Road roundabout between an ambulance and a lorry resulted in serious injuries. The patient in the ambulance later died, but it is unknown if this was as a result of the accident. On the M1 motorway, the final white-lining is taking place, suggesting that all three lanes may soon be open - at least countrybound. According to the revised completion date of February 2009, the project is now 71% completed.

16 Mar 2008

The Grosvenor Road junction is now open to traffic and seems to be functioning well (pic 1). Anecdotal evidence suggests that rush hour traffic levels on Donegall Road have fallen dramatically since the new junction opened providing an alternative route out of the city centre for M1-bound traffic. Two sign ganties have been erected on the upgraded Westlink northbound. However, both contain a glaring error - according to the Traffic Signs Manual when motorway numbers appear on a green primary sign they should be written on a blue patch. However, these blue patches are missing from both signs (pic 2) creating the odd and incorrect situation of the M2 and M3 numbers appearing as white on green! Between Roden Street and Grosvenor Road the Westlink now appears complete, although not all lanes are open. The footpath running between the two junction is now open and the new footbridge also appears to be operational. Between Roden Street and Broadway, what will be the segregated busway on the eastern side is completed and is currently being used to carry one lane of M1-bound traffic (pic 3). Eventually it will carry buses in the opposite direction. At Broadway, work on cladding the underpass walls is underway, and the "final" curved barrier on each entrance to the underpass are in place (pics 4 and 5). No significant further work has taken place on the roundabout on top of the underpass. The M1 motorway looks essentially completed, with only the markings for the hard shoulder still needed. Only two lanes are open countrybound, but there seems to be no good reason for this restriction at this stage. At Stockman's Lane, work continues to widen the roundabout to three lanes. Despite being told originally that most of this widening would take place on the inner side of the roundabout, in fact most of it seems to be taking place on the outer side.

Pic 1: The completed Grosvenor Road junction seen from the city centre side in mid March 2008. [Wesley Johnston]

Pic 2: Erroneous new gantry sign on the Westlink northbound missing the
required blue patches for the M2 and M3 numbers. [Wesley Johnston]

Pic 3: The view north along the Westlink from Broadway in mid march 2008. The vehicles on the right are travelling on the future segregated bus lanes, while those on the left are on the future southbound offslip. The underpass is to the left. [Wesley Johnston]

The north (city) end of the Broadway underpass in mid March 2008. The walls are now completely cladded, and the fixtures for the central reservation are in place. [Wesley Johnston]

The northern (city) side entrance to the Broadway underpass in mid March 2008. The "final" parapet is being installed here, on the right. [Wesley Johnston]

4 Mar 2008

Speaking at the opening of Grosvenor Road junction this morning, Regional Development Minister Conor Murphy stated that the project is now running "six months ahead of schedule". Certainly the pace of work compared to the timetable released when the project began makes this claim quite believable. He stated that the Broadway underpass would be open to traffic in the later summer of 2008, athough this would not mean that the junction would actually be finished then. If the project maintains this momentum, then it would complete six months earlier than the advertised completion date of "August 2009", ie in February 2009. This date was not stated by Conor Murphy in his press release, so is not an "official" timescale. However this completion date would mean that the project was now 68% completed.... or more than two-thirds completed. Note also that all three lanes of the widened Westlink now appear to be open northbound under the new Grosvenor Road bridge between Roden Street and Divis Street, although only two are open southbound.

3 Mar 2008

The new junction at Grosvenor Road opens to traffic tomorrow, representing a huge milestone for the project. After two years of being unavailable to commuters, from tomorrow the Grosvenor Road will become an option for getting into the city. While this may not help those who have been enjoying lighter traffic on the Grosvenor Road lately, it will be interesting to see if it eases flow on the Westlink itself.

17 Feb 2008

At Grosvenor Road, the new junction is more or less completed. The final layer of tarmac has been laid on the bridge and the sliproads (pic 1 below), the final road markings are in place and traffic lights are installed and ready for use. I would anticipate that opening will occur quite soon. (Drivers should note that coming along Grosvenor Road from the city centre, the left of the two lanes continues onto the onslip. Traffic wishing to go over the bridge towards the Falls must use the right lane.) Approaching the Mulhouse Road/Roden Street junction the new widened Westlink is coming along well (pic 2) with the new central reservation largely complete along with the kerbing at the each side. The new offslip to Mulhouse Road (Royal Victoria Hospital) is now apparent, although it looks surprisingly short for a sliproad coming off such a fast route. A new road sign (pic 3) shows the Mulhouse Road signed as "local access". This sign is at odds with the fact that this is one of the three main entrances to the Royal Victoria Hospital, and suggests that the planners want to discourage the use of this junction. At Broadway, where the underpass has now been completely excavated, workers are putting the final cladding on the walls of the underpass (pic 4) and are erecting the parapets at each end. The construction of the "final" roundabout continues on top of the underpass (pic 5) although as yet the roundabout retains in its slightly enlarged layout. On the M1 motorway, which is apparently just waiting completion of odds and ends, new high level street lighting is being installed on the central crash barrier. Finally, at Stockman's Lane, work is progressing slowly to widen the roundabout to three lanes. Work is also underway to build a high-quality stone wall round the centre of the roundabout in order to improve the appearance of this important junction.

Pic 1: The completed (but unopened) offslip seem from Grosvenor Road on 17 Feb 2008.
The Westlink runs to the left of this shot. [Wesley Johnston]

Pic 2: Telephoto view south from Grosvenor Road towards
Roden Street on 17 Feb 2008. [Wesley Johnston]

Pic 3: The new road sign for traffic travelling north along the Westlink approaching Mulhouse Road (here "local access") and Grosvenor Road seen on 17 Feb 2008. [Wesley Johnston]

Pic 4: Work underway to line the sides of the Broadway underpass, here seen at the northern end on 17 Feb 2008. Note work also taking place to construct the parapet. [Wesley Johnston]

Pic 5: A small section of the "final" roundabout at Broadway in place on 17 Feb 2008, with the temporary traffic lanes visible on the right. [Wesley Johnston]

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 October 2007 to February 2008, click here.

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

For the progress reports from March 2007 to June 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.