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New broadway underpass opens in Belfast

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Roads Minister Conor Murphy has announced that Broadway underpass will be opened to traffic on Friday 4 July, some 13 months ahead of schedule.

The Minister welcomed the excellent progress that has been made and said: "The transfer of traffic to Broadway underpass is the most significant milestone to date in the £104 million upgrade of the M1/Westlink.  At this stage we will have two lanes in each direction through the underpass.  When we finally complete the works there will be three lanes in each direction.  However, the mainline traffic should see an immediate improvement as vehicles will now be able to travel uninterrupted along the M1 and Westlink.”

"Work is ongoing to complete the work on Broadway roundabout above the underpass.  With two thirds of the traffic now using the underpass this will improve access across Broadway for pedestrians and will provide the opportunity to improve access to and from the Royal Group of Hospitals.  Completion of the junction is expected early next year when the full benefits will be realised. ”

The new underpass will improve the strategic links between the M1, the M2 and the M3 motorways, and will greatly improve access to Belfast City Centre, the Port of Belfast and the George Best Belfast City Airport.  The improvements in journey times, which are essential for the efficient movement of goods, will be particularly welcomed by the freight transport industry.

Mr Murphy said: “Staff in Roads Service and the contractor HMC have worked hard to minimise the disruption to traffic during the construction of new Broadway Underpass.  I would like to congratulate everyone involved in delivering this very challenging and complex element of the project well ahead

of target.  I would also like to thank the travelling public for their continued patience during this period.”

Leo Martin Project Director for the Construction Firm HMC paid tribute to his workforce and said: “The decision to realign the Clowney River to the South of the underpass rather than integrate it into the roof slab has been a major factor in allowing us to reprogramme the work to finish this part early.  This allowed us to deal more efficiently with numerous overhead and underground services and keep traffic running during the construction.  I am particularly pleased that we have been able to accelerate the works while maintaining our excellent safety record on the site.  I would congratulate our staff who have worked nights, weekends and holidays to complete this work early while avoiding the busiest traffic periods.”

Notes to Editors:

  • Work began at Broadway in January 2006 with the diversion of a vast array of major underground and overhead services to clear the way for construction of the underpass.  This included overhead electricity power lines and the Clowney Water that used to flow through the middle of Broadway junction.
  • The Broadway underpass was constructed using a ‘top down’ construction technique.  This process involves a series of steps:
  • Installing a series of piles from ground level to form the continuous walls of the underpass.    
  • Construction of the reinforced concrete roof slab at ground level.  
  • The underpass was then excavated beneath the roof slab, and
  • The reinforced concrete floor slab (or propping slab) is then cast in place.
  • Work will continue until spring 2009 to construct the new Broadway Roundabout (above the underpass) and on/off slip roads that will connect the roundabout with the M1 and Westlink.
  • Since the start of the year a number of other significant milestones have been achieved on the M1/Westlink Project.  In March the underpass and slip roads at Grosvenor Road junction were completed and in May the improvement works at Stockman’s Lane junction were completed and the new road layout was opened to the public.  The overall M1/Westlink Project, which is 6 months ahead of programme, remains on target for completion in spring 2009.
  • The M1/Westlink Scheme is part of a Design, Build, Finance and Operate (DBFO) contract which is being funded through a Public Private Partnership.  
  • The works are being undertaken by HMC, a joint venture which comprises local contractors; Graham Construction and Northstone as well as German contractor Bilfinger Berger.
  • Media queries to: Anne Armstrong or Michaela Smyth, Press Office, Department for Regional Development, Tel: 028 9054 0372