Northern Ireland

Belfast Westlink: Crashes and traffic delays 'damaging trade'

Westlink road sign
Image caption The Westlink is one of the busiest roads in Northern Ireland and crashes on the route often cause knock-on delays throughout the city

Small business owners are "exasperated" after another crash on Belfast's Westlink caused hours of traffic jams across the city, a spokesman has said.

The collision between a car and a lorry happened on the Westlink at about 07:00 GMT and led to congestion during rush hour and beyond on Tuesday morning.

Roger Pollen from the Federation of Small Businesses was among thousands of motorists caught in long tailbacks.

He said such incidents appeared to be increasing and were damaging trade.

'Exasperated'

The latest crash took place close to Kennedy Way on the country-bound lane of the Westlink - one of Northern Ireland's busiest roads.

Two people attended hospital but were later discharged. The damaged vehicles were removed by 08:40 GMT, but it took almost another two hours before traffic returned to normal.

During the disruption, Translink tweeted that all of its buses in Belfast were affected by knock-on delays.

Image copyright Twitter
Image caption Translink's customer service staff used social media to explain to bus passengers why services were delayed

In a later statement, its spokeswoman said: "Metro, Ulsterbus and Goldline services operating in Belfast this morning were subject to delays and cancellations following an earlier collision on the Westlink. Services returned to normal at around 10.30am."

A number of crashes on the Westlink in recent weeks have caused severe disruption, but Mr Pollen said: "I really don't think I've ever seen anything quite as bad as we had today."

He added that as he was sitting in traffic he could see businesses being adversely affected.

"There were delivery vans, there were people going to work and then there were also the people who should have been at work and there were customers who were unable to spend, so the whole thing has a huge impact."

He added: "I phoned around a number of our members once I got into the office, just to see how they'd been affected and they were all exasperated - at staff coming in late and just the impact on their business generally."

Image caption Roger Pollen from the Federation of Small Businesses said his members were exasperated by the effect of traffic congestion during trading hours

Mr Pollen also said Belfast was becoming a "very hostile place to bring your car" due to recent Department of Regional Development (DRD) policies, including extended bus lanes and a new 20 mph limit in some parts of the city centre.

A DRD spokesman said the 20 mph policy was to "improve safety".

A TransportNI spokesperson said two recently installed bus lanes were "fully justified" as they carried a high proportion of commuters while taking up a "small proportion of the road space".

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