ROADS chiefs are set to close a crossing point at an “accident hotspot” in Ballymena on an experimental basis.
Officials are to ban the right hand turn onto Raceview at the ECOS Park M2 slip road.
In a letter to Mid & East Antrim Borough Council, Jonathan Stirling, Traffic Management, said that over the past 18 months they have 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 has 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”.
Ballymena SDLP councillor Declan O’Loan (SDLP) said it was good that something was being done but he said the current plan was the cheaper option rather than an engineering solution.
He said something needed to be done to improve safety at a similar crossing point a short distance away at the end of the northern off-slip from the M2.
Cllr O’Loan said the crossing point there in the middle of the Raceview Road was “just about wide enough for a bicycle” and was extremely dangerous.
Glenarm Ulster Unionist councillor Maureen Morrow was glad to see the action being taken as there were “so many accidents and close shaves”.
Glarryford Traditional Unionist Voice councillor Timothy Gaston welcomed the initiative saying it was a “commonsense approach”.