Plan to cut congestion in Belfast

A new traffic plan to reduce congestion levels in Belfast city centre and provide more road space for public transport and pedestrians has been announced.

The Department for Regional Development has said that under the 'Belfast on the Move' plan, car traffic around the city hall will drop to two lanes to encourage motorists to bypass the city centre.

A redistribution of available road space in the city centre in favour of public transport, pedestrians and cyclists will mean that northbound vehicles will be diverted, creating almost 3km (1.9 miles) of new bus lanes.

The department has also said that extra cycling space and pedestrian crossing points will be created.

Nearly 30,000 vehicles a day travel through the city centre on streets either side of the city hall, with 60% being through traffic.

Regional Development Minister Conor Murphy wants to reduce the car volume by a 10th, and hopes that the masterplan could be introduced in 2011/12 depending on a £5 million funding.

Mr Murphy said: "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 plan hopes to create bus lanes at Wellington Place, Chichester Street, May Street and Howard Street near the city hall by re-routing northbound vehicles onto alternative route via Hope Street and Durham Street while southbound cars continue to use Great Victoria Street.

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