WORK to close up an ‘accident hotspot’ junction in Ballymena has been postponed so as not to interfere with the Christmas shopping season in the town.
Another reason given to Mid & East Antrim Borough Council by roads chiefs was concerns about doing work at the busy junction of the Raceview Road and the M2 slip road during the “dark winter months”.
The work is now not scheduled to start until spring next year.
In 2018 councillors gave their backing for right turns towards Broughshane to be banned for an experimental period and instead traffic will turn left and go round the roundabout at the Ecos Park.
A letter from roads bosses now says the experimental time frame will be six months and the necessary paperwork took until now to be processed by their legislation branch.
The letter said: ‘When the legislation was processed it would have come into effect this November 2019.
‘After consulting with the PSNI and sharing their concerns in relation to altering the layout of this busy junction during the dark winter months and at a time when the town attracts many additional out of town visitors to do their Christmas shopping it was agreed that the implementation of the scheme would be delayed until spring 2020’.
In a previous letter in the summer of 2018, to Mid & East Antrim Borough Council, Jonathan Stirling, Traffic Management, said that over the past 18 months they had received correspondence expressing concern about the safety of the junction from the public, councillors and the PSNI.
Said Mr Stirling: ‘Investigation has shown this to be something of an accident hotspot with statistics provided to the Department by the PSNI, highlighting six rtc’s (road traffic collisions) here between April 1, 2014 and March 31, 2018.’
Mr Stirling said queues often build up at peak times at the junction.
Traffic turning right towards Broughshane has to cross two lanes of traffic and then wait in the central reserve for a safe opportunity to join the road.
Mr Stirling said the department had concerns about the risk to other motorists by large goods vehicles waiting in the central reserve while ‘overhanging’ one of the lanes coming from Broughshane.
Mr Stirling said: ‘In order to improve not just road safety at the junction but also traffic progression, DFI-Roads are considering banning the right turn movement at the top of the off slip.
‘Those who would normally perform such a movement would be signed via the Ecos roundabout and back onto Broughshane/Raceview Road.
‘Any additional time added to motorists’ journeys would be minimal and at peak times when queues are extensive should actually reduce their journey time.
‘Any ban on the movement at this stage would be introduced on an experimental basis to gauge its effect pending any decision to make it permanent’.