M1 and M2 Hard Shoulder Bus Lanes (2017)

 

Status
Construction scheme (future)
Contractor
?
Where
To convert the citybound hard shoulders into peak-period bus lanes on:
M1 from Blaris (junction 8) to the existing bus lane at Ballyskeagh (between junctions 2 and 6).
M2 from Greencastle (junction 4) to Duncrue Street (junction 1B)
Total Length
6.0 miles / 9.7 km (3.5 miles / 5.6 km on M1, 2.5 miles / 3.2 km on M2)
Dates

1999 - M1 bus lane opened Stockman's Lane (j2) to Broadway (j1)

22 Aug 2006 - M1 bus lane opened Ballyskeagh to Blacks Road (j3)

19 Nov 2007 - M2 bus lane opened on approach to Sandyknowes (j4)
8 Nov 2016 - this scheme put out to tender
Early 2017 - work was expected to begin but tender was not awarded (to last 5 months)
Jun 2017 - review of design and funding underway. Construction uncertain.

Cost
2.9m (estimate) - as of Nov 2016
See Also

See below for maps


Click here to jump straight down to updates for this scheme.

Currently (as of December 2016) there are two peak-period, hard shoulder bus lanes on motorways in Northern Ireland. On the M1, there is a bus lane running from Ballyskeagh (between junctions 6 and 3, close to the River Lagan) to the terminus of the M1 at Broadway (with a short gap from Black's Road to Stockman's Lane). On the M2, there is a bus lane running from half way between Templepatrick and Sandyknowes (junctions 5 and 4) to Sandyknowes roundabout. (When this was introduced in 2007 it was to be a three year temporary measure during the Westlink upgrade, but in fact it was never removed.) There is another short stretch running from Sandyknowes roundabout to Hightown Road.

This scheme will see additional bus lanes built on both motorways. On the M1, the busway will be extended by approximately 5.6 km west from Ballyskeagh all the way through junctions 6 and 7 to junction 8 (Blaris) which is home to an existing park-and-ride facility. On the M2, a new section of busway will be constructed from the Greencastle junction (j2) to the offslip at Duncrue Street (junction 1B), a distance of approximately 3.2 km. There will thus be a gap on the M2 hill section (Hightown Road to Greencastle), which is likely because the hard shoulder on this section is not continuous due to restrictions at Bellevue Bridge and Greencastle interchange.

Both of the new M1 and M2 bus lanes will pass through existing junctions (junctions 6 and 7 on the M1 and junction 1 on the M1) - it is not yet clear how this will be achieved. One possibility is for buses to go up the offslip and back down the onslip. The only place this would not work is junction 7 on the M1 as there is no offslip at this junction. The maps below show the sections in question.

M1 BUS LANE
Purple shows existing bus lanes, while red shows the proposed new bus lanes.
(note route through Saintfield Road and Sprucefield interchanges is conjectural)

M2 BUS LANE
Purple shows existing bus lanes, while red shows the proposed new bus lanes.
(note route through Fortwilliam interchange is conjectural)

The two busways will require engineering work for two reasons. Firstly, historically hard shoulders tended not to be built to as high a standard as the main traffic lanes, and hence may need lifted and rebuilt in order to strengthem them. Secondly, the bus lanes will require new road layouts in places, both physically (kerbing) and in terms of lane markings.

Updates

10 Jul 2017: In the previous update in April I noted that having been put out to tender, this pair of schemes simply vanished. We now know why. According to DFI Roads' report to Lisburn and Castlereagh Council three weeks ago the tenders received were higher than anticipated and so the scheme was pulled. The report says: "A procurement process was completed in January 2017, although the tendered costs were significantly higher than expected and as a result the contract was not awarded. Currently a review of the procurement strategy and any alternative delivery of the scheme is underway, to determine if it can be procured in a more cost effective way, or with reduced requirements." In other words they're looking for ways of either getting more money, or reducing the design to save money. The wording doesn't sound particularly enthusiastic so it's possible we will hear nothing more of this scheme for a while.

14 Apr 2017: Something strange has happened to this scheme. It went out to tender in November 2016, but over the past month or two has completely vanished off the TransportNI procurement web site. No tender seems to have been awarded. This suggests that the scheme has got pulled out of the schedule for some reason. One possible reason is that York Street Interchange now looks to be on the long finger, and alleviating congestion during construction was one of the reasons for the M2 works. However that does not explain the M1 works and so there is still a mystery around what has happened here.

3 Dec 2016: The tender for the two busways was advertised on 8 November 2016. This implies that one contractor will be responsible for both schemes, and so work is likely to take place concurrently on both. Work is currently due to begin early in 2017. Work is scheduled to take 5 months to complete. In a Question for Written Answer (AQW 612/16-21) the Minister said that the M2 bus lane "would be a temporary traffic management measure associated with the proposed York Street Interchange scheme, to help alleviate traffic congestion by encouraging a modal shift to public transport for travel into Belfast at peak times during the 3 year construction period." Given that the same thing was said when the M2 bus lane was introduced at Sandyknowes in 2007, but it is still there today, I think we can assume that it the bus lane will be permanent despite this statement!