Ulster Unionist politicians John Stewart and Andy Wilson have called on the Department for Infrastructure to vest a piece of land at the bottom of the Ballyloran link road to ease growing traffic congestion in Larne West.
In a statement, John Stewart MLA said: “Almost a year ago I wrote to senior DfI Roads Service officials as well as the head of planning in the council highlighting the need to upgrade the infrastructure in the Larne West suburbs, in light of new planning application for more housing in the area.
“This has become even more urgent as hundreds of new houses have been approved- albeit at outline stage – over the last few months.
“One of glaring problems with the development of Larne West is that the only way in and out for hundreds of residents is via Donaghy’s Lane and the Linn Road.
“The main spine road – the Ballyloran Link - has not been joined up from the Killyglen to the Old Belfast Road in the way that was envisaged in the masterplan that was drawn up for developers to follow over 25 years ago.
“As a result, the school run has become a nightmare for many residents - because all the schools are in the older parts of Larne.
“The idea of traffic lights at the Donaghys Lane/Antiville Road junction, was talked about over 13 years ago as a planning condition when a previous major housing development on the Ballyboley Road received outline approval.
“The latest condition on the new application that a traffic light system at that junction has to be put in before the 151st house is occupied.
“How a traffic light system would avoid causing more problems, with tailbacks to both the Linn road and, more dangerously, the Antiville roundabout on the dual carriageway, is an important question which has yet to be answered. However, it is not just Donaghy’s Lane which should be getting attention.
“We cannot wait for four or five years for 150 more houses to be built before action is taken. DfI Roads need to produce without further delay a local transport strategy for Larne West which addresses the bottle necks and complete the spine roads, if necessary, through vesting land where the road has been left unfinished.”
Ulster Unionist councillor Andy Wilson added: “The Department for Infrastructure needs to start taking action now to ease the increasing gridlock at peak times in Larne West.
“There is a relatively short length at the bottom of the Ballyloran Link Road which is currently waste ground where Hampton Manor should be linked up to Cloverbrook and the Old Belfast Road.
“We are calling for the Department for Infrastructure to vest this land and get the spine road finished.
“Giving residents another option for getting out and onto to the main A8 dual carriageway will at least help ease some congestion on Donaghys Lane, but there has to be a comprehensive and future proofed infrastructure upgrade in Larne West as a whole.
“The Department for Infrastructure Roads needs to produce the Local Transport Strategy, which is required for the new Local Development Plan, as a matter of urgency.
“That strategy needs to look at all the roads linking the new Larne West suburbs and all the junctions in and out of the area.
“Local representatives and crucially the local residents then need to have an input into whatever solutions are proposed.
“This is vital before hundreds of new homes are built. The current roads infrastructure cannot take it.”