He said: “There is a dreadful irony that the day after the Minister’s public announcement of the ‘remedial measures’ associated with the closure of the Hightown Bridge on 21 January the Sandyknowes area has experienced further problems during the morning rush hour because of a broken down vehicle at Scullion’s Road – while the Hightown Bridge is open. I believe that this is yet another reason why simply closing the bridge for a year and depending on better traffic management at Sandyknowes Roundabout is unacceptable.
“I have written to the Roads Service again and asked engineers to consider the following possibilities for a single-line temporary structure to carry light vehicles. This could either work on an alternating traffic light arrangement or go with the peak flow for the morning and evening peak hours. Emergency vehicles could be provided with an over-ride facility.
1. A bridge from just west of the Hightown Road/Mallusk Road junction, going at 90 degrees to the line of the motorway (rather than parallel to the existing bridge) and curving 90 degrees to the south east to join Derry Road just before the lower Hightown Road joins the existing bridge.
This would enable traffic to maintain the closest line to the existing route, though would potentially impact on businesses and houses on the Derry Road . Making use of the pavement nearest the M2 and half of the roadway should reduced that impact.
2. A bridge starting from the same point, and crossing the M2 on the same line, or possibly more northerly before curving to the north west to join Derry Road. Traffic would access the centre of Glengormley via Derry Road and Burney’s Lane.
This would remove the impact on the village centre, but cause some disruption on Burney’s Lane. Access would have to be restricted to Harmin Drive and temporary lights might be needed at Burney’s Lane/Antrim Road junction.
3. A bridge running from the Hightown Road/Mallusk Road junction, going broadly north east on the eastern side of the existing bridge to link with Hightown Court.
This would impact on Hightown Court , and possibly the village centre. The positive consideration is that the M2 is falling away from the level of the Hightown Road , which has the added advantage of lowering the temporary structure.
David Ford added:
“At last week’s meeting, I questioned the validity of a cost-benefit analysis completed some years ago when there was a significantly smaller population in the affected area, but received no answer. I believe that any proposals must now take account of the 5,000 people who live ‘above the bridge’, the concerns of local businesses in Glengormley and others who commute through Sandyknowes daily.
“It is simply not acceptable for the Department to depend solely on the Sandyknowes roundabout to carry all the traffic currently using the Hightown Bridge . Even if a temporary structure was not in place for a few weeks, I believe that it would be considerable reassurance to the people of Hightown, Hollybrook and Mayfield, as well as the wider Glengormley business and residential community, if it was known that something would be in place within a few weeks.”