Frustrated motorists are waiting almost nine minutes to exit a notorious Larne junction during morning rush hour, a traffic survey has shown.
The problem was highlighted after the Department of Infrastructure (DoI) conducted a survey on the busy Linn Road/Antiville Road junction in February.
The study revealed that during the peak time of 8.40am-8.50am, a queue of five cars had to wait eight minutes and 50 seconds each to exit from the Linn Road.
Motorists seeking to turn right from the Linn Road onto Antiville Road are hit by a quadruple whammy of traffic coming from the left along the Antiville Road, traffic waiting in the pocket to turn right into the Linn Road, traffic coming from Mill Brae and traffic coming from the Antiville roundabout on the right.
DUP MLA Gordon Lyons fears a serious accident could occur at the junction, and is calling for the DoI to install traffic lights there.
“This is one of the most densely populated areas in Larne and there is a big problem with traffic congestion,” he told the Times.
“I think it’s quite startling that people are having to wait nine minutes at that junction.
“The report notes that motorists are ‘visibly frustrated’ and some are using a ‘rat run’ through Inverview Road into Loran Road and onto Antiville Road to avoid the queue, otherwise it would be even worse at the Linn Road junction.
“This is early in the morning, it’s a residential area and with cars going fast and there is a potential pedestrian and driver safety issue.
“If motorists are trying to get out they are more likely to take risks.
“We need proper traffic calming measures in the town.”
Mr Lyons says he first raised his concerns with the DoI when he was still a member of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council in 2015.
However, no action has yet been taken to deal with the issues.
“The DoI should have addressed this problem by now and I am now calling for urgent action,” Mr Lyons continued.
“My fear is that there could be an accident at the Linn Road junction or at the Inverview Road ‘rat run.’
“I have been in touch with the DoI since October 2015 and they told me they hadn’t been able to get it done due to constraints on work.
“This has been going on for a long time and it’s time now for action.”
In order to gauge local opinion on the issue, Mr Lyons conducted his own traffic survey last year, asking local residents which traffic calming measures they thought would be most effective at tackling the problem.
He says that the majority of the 200 residents who responded favoured the introduction of traffic lights, rather than a roundabout.
Several residents who filled in Mr Lyons’ questionnaire voiced their anger at continuing to run the gauntlet during the morning rush hour, with one saying he had witnessed “many near misses.”
“In the last eight years three more exits have made this worse,” said another.
“Mill Brae and the Lower Cairncastle Road create problems in front of the schools.
“Mill Brae is so bad as it’s so steep and with residents parking there is only one lane of the road to negotiate.
“People parking on pavements are causing more problems.
“These small roads are not made for this volume of traffic.”`
Another resident commented that there were “too many cars driving too fast when children are about.”
“A lot of cars use Loran Road to escape the congestion at the Linn Road/Antiville Road junction but it is very dangerous at the Loran Road junction too,” said a third.
Mr Lyons said that the 200 responses to his survey showed the “strength of feeling” on the subject.
“I don’t think we would need traffic lights at multiple points, just at the junction between the Linn Road and the Antriville Road,” he concluded.
A Department for Infrastructure spokesperson said: “The Department is aware of peak hour delays at the Linn Rd / Antiville Road junction in Larne and recently carried out a survey to update traffic flow information.
“Options for the junction and Inverview Road are currently being reviewed, any future work will be considered in future work programmes dependent on relative priority of the work and available finance.”