Northern Ireland

'Traffic master plan' for Belfast city centre unveiled

map of planned changes by drd to may street
Image caption A map outlining the planned changes to May Street, one of the city centre streets included in the proposals

Transport Minister Conor Murphy has launched a consultation process for a traffic master plan for Belfast city centre.

'Belfast on the Move' aims to substantially reduce traffic levels and provide more road space for public transport, pedestrians and cyclists.

Around 30,000 vehicles use the steets on both sides of the city hall each day but about 60% is through traffic.

Public consultation on the proposals will close on 30 November.

Conor Murphy said Belfast city centre has been transformed in recent years with major regeneration and retail redevelopments.

"A thriving city centre needs a transport system that not only encourages the use of more sustainable transport to reduce congestion but also enhances the environment for those who shop, visit, work and live in Belfast city centre," he said.

The minister said his vision was to achieve a city centre where access by public transport is given a much "higher priority" and to create a safe street environment tailored to the needs of pedestrians rather than the private car".

'Safe and sustainable transport system'

"Over 40% of households in Belfast do not have access to a private car and therefore rely on public transport.

"For the city centre to thrive, people need to be able to access goods and services swiftly and efficiently and public transport will play an increasingly important role in this as non essential traffic is redirected away from the central area.

"The 'Belfast on the Move' proposals will promote a safe, sustainable and efficient transport system within Belfast city centre. "

The proposed 'Sustainable Transport Enabling Measures' will require the redistribution of available road space in the city centre in favour of public transport, pedestrians and cyclists.

Improvements will be made to the road network to the west of the central area to provide an alternative route for northbound traffic.

The longer term objectives of the master plan are to remove through traffic from the streets around city hall so that it can be linked directly to Donegall Place and to improve public transport by facilitating cross-city bus routes and future rapid transit routes.

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