A23 and B178 Hillsborough Road realignment, Moneyreagh


Construction scheme (completed)
To realign the B178 Hillsborough Road where it meets the A23 near Moneyreagh.
Known locally as "Ewarts".
Total Length
350 metres

14 Sep 2016 - planning permission granted (ref LA05/2015/0844/F)
September 2016 - work began
c6 Jun 2018 - road opened to traffic and old Hillsborough Road closed off

£unknown - being funded by a private developer
See Also

General area map - Google Maps

Click here to jump straight down to updates for this scheme.

The A23 connects Belfast to Ballygowan and on to Saintfield. Although generally a good, straight road is is punctuated by a series of very busy staggered cross-roads that have been a safety issue for many years, not to mention a delay to traffic. One such junction is the B178/A23 junction at Moneyreagh, known to many as the site of the former Ewarts stores. Attempts to replace it with a roundabout in the past have stalled due to high land costs. This scheme, being carried out by a private housing developer, will see the Hillsborough Road realigned to the north as part of a 71-unit development. The new stretch of road will be about 350 metres long and it wil meet the A23 about 100 metres further north than at present. This is shown on the design below, which is from the Planning Service web site.

The realigned road will, oddly, convert the junction into one that requires a right-left movement to go straight on, rather than a left-right movement, which is actually more difficult for road users. However, in its defence, it will split the two T-junctions much further apart, and add a right-turn filter lane on the new junction, which will reduce conflicts between the two junctions. It will also allow the possiility of a roundabout to be added at a future date, since the B178 to the east has no development at this point. It remains to be seen how it will work in practice since sometimes improving visibility and reducing conflicts can actually encourage higher vehicle speeds. This is one I can report on personally since I drive through it several times a week.

The picture below shows the situation before work began - this is looking north along the A23 Ballygowan Road (towards Belfast) with Hillsborough Road to the left. It will be diverted to emerge about 100 metres further ahead.

View north along the A23 Ballygowan Road (towards Belfast) with Hillsborough Road to the left showing how the junction looked before work began, circa 2015 [Wesley Johnston].

With many thanks to Alan Mannis for letting me know about this scheme.


14 June 2018: The road was finally completed and opened to traffic without ceremony on or around 6 June 2018, following a lane closure to complete the tie-in to the existing road. I (naturally) went down a couple of days later to tour the new link and I include six photographs below. Although only 350 metres long the new road has been completed to a high standard with a 40mph design speed. Access to the original alignment of the Hillsborough Road from the main A23 has now been permanently closed off with kerbing and soil, although the road itself remains in use as a cul-de-sac for access to existing properties. The new road means that for traffic crossing over the A23, the junction has changed from a relatively straightforward left-right manoeuvre to a more complex right-left manoeuvre which will take some getting used to. Some people have also commented that they think traffic coming from the Ballygowan direciton is approaching the junction at a higher speed now that there are no longer people tryign to cross over from one side to the other. My instinct is that DFI Roads want to eventually realign the other arm of Hillsborough Road and replace the newly finished T-junction with a roundabout. I would give it perhaps five years before we can expect to see something along those lines happening! The photos below are arranged in order starting at the eastern end, ie the junction with the A23 Ballygowan Road.

Pic 1: View south along the A23 (with Belfast behind the camera) showing the new T-junction open and in use on 8 June 2018. In the distance you can just see the cones blocking the original entrance to Hillsborough Road (where the van is turning). [Wesley Johnston]

Pic 2: Moving a few metres forward and looking actoss the A23 this is the view along the new road link, showing its high spec, complete with turn right filter lane, traffic island, two lanes for emerging traffic, twin footpaths with tactile paving, a pair of keep-left bollards, street lighting and even its very own little area of hatching! The road name is even in place, showing that the realigned road is taking the same name as the one it replaced. 8 June 2018 [Wesley Johnston]

Pic 3: Very high standard fencing is a feature along both sides of the eastern part of the new road link. A Twitter discussion concluded that the horizontals are meant to break free on impact, thus presenting less of a hazard to errant vehicles. The posts, however, are very firmly cemented into the ground! 8 June 2018. [Wesley Johnston]

Pic 4: Walking about 250 metres along the road, this is the view west towards where the road rejoins the original line of Hillsborough Road (just beyond the digger). The road to the left is a new entrance into the bypassed stretch of Hillsborough Road which will remain as a cul-de-sac to provide access to properties. 8 June 2018. The road has central hatching along this stretch, which is used to provide right-turn pockets to this, and an access into a future housing development, off frame to the right. [Wesley Johnston]

Pic 5: Walking down the little link road showin in Pic 4, this the view west along the original line of Hillsborough Road on 8 June 2018 showing how the realigned road now swings off. The JCB is presumably in the process of constructing a turning head. [Wesley Johnston]

Pic 6: Walking another 100 metres along Hillsborough Road and then turning round, this is the view back the way we came, east, on 8 June 2018 from where the new road rejoins the old one. The old road is visible beyond the JCB. This is almost the same view as the last image on this page, below, which was taken in October 2016. [Wesley Johnston]

22 Mar 2018: Work on the road seemed to stall during 2017, but in the past couple of months there has been a bit more progress once again. Work on widening the existing A23 at the point the new road joins it has taken place, as shown by the kerb lines in the photo below. In addition, a consultation is now underway into a piece of legislation that is required to stop up the existing Hillsborough Road junction which will be closed once the realigned road is opened. It's not clear what timescale the developer is working to, but the consultation suggests some progress towards completion of the realignment.

View south on the A23 showing the kerbs in place for the realigned Hillsborough Road on 16 March 2018 [Wesley Johnston].

28 Oct 2016: A small update to bring you three photos I took three days ago showing the works as they are now. The map at the top of this page may be of some use in orienting yourself in these pictures.

View west along the new road across the A23 Ballygowan Road on 25 Oct 2016. The stone base layer seems to be in place but kerbing is yet to go in. Some drainage works are probably also underway at either side. [Wesley Johnston]

Moving a few dozen metres north (to the right) from the previous photo this shows the curve in the realigned Hillsborough Road. Seen from the A23 Ballygowan Road on 25 Oct 2016. [Wesley Johnston]

View east along Hillsborough Road towards the western end of the new road. This is the point that the realigned road will swing left onto the new route. The old road will remain in place for local access. Presumably the telephone pole in the foreground will have to be relocated at some point soon. Seen on 25 Oct 2016. [Wesley Johnston]

23 Oct 2016: Visible work got underway on this scheme during September, almost immediately after planning permission was granted, and as of today most of the base course of gravel on the route of the diverted Hillsborough Road has been built. No work has yet taken place on the tie-in to the main A23. There was little or no advance publicity due to this being a private scheme.