Dickson Voices Frustration at York Street Interchange Project’s Slow Progress
East Antrim Alliance MLA, Stewart Dickson, has voiced his frustration at the slow progress of the increasingly-expensive York Street Interchange Project.
Mr Dickson said: “The York Street Interchange Project will address a major bottleneck, replacing the existing junctions at York Street, with direct links between the Westlink, the M2, and the M3. These three roads, each of which constitutes a vital artery in and out of Belfast, are the busiest roads in Northern Ireland.
“As well as the direct links, underpasses below existing bridges will enable a better flow of local traffic.
“This Project is a positive development for Northern Ireland’s infrastructure, but the level of construction needed comes with a huge price tag. In 2015, the estimated cost of the project stood between £120m - £165m. That estimate is now outdated, and so under review”.
Mr Dickson went on to say: “In addition to the cost, with a project of this scale, delays are inevitable. But the longer we wait, the longer barriers are maintained between Belfast and the North East, and the longer East Antrim is choked of economic activity.
“This project has already been dragging on for over a decade, having officially begun in 2009.
“The latest reason for delay, is to allow time for a ‘Placemaking and Active Travel Review’. Whilst a review of this nature is of course important, and will explore implementation issues, and allow for further stakeholder engagement, the process is simply taking too long.
“In the years that have passed, the York Street area has undergone massive regeneration, and significant demographic change, with many students now living in the surrounding new builds.
“There are also environmental concerns. There was a Public Inquiry in 2015 looking at the environmental impacts of the project – but given the time that has elapsed since then, questions remain”.
Mr Dickson concluded by saying: “For this Project to succeed, I accept that it cannot be rushed. At the same time, efficiency and focus are crucial to getting the job done. As is balancing community needs and environmental protection.
“I look forward to the completion of the Project, and the many opportunities it will bring to East Antrim”.