MAJOR improvement work costing £1.4 million is to be carried out on the bridge at Finaghy Road North after it was identified as Northern Ireland's number one danger spot for a Selby type rail disaster.

The project will be carried out during July and August and despite looking at various alternatives Roads Service has been left with no alternative but to close the bridge for this period.

They say the structure's restricted width means work cannot be carried out safely when it is open to traffic.

In a joint operation, Roads Service and Northern Ireland Railways will replace existing walls and fences on the bridge with a high standard safety barrier.

The work will also involve strengthening the structure and increasing the width of the carriageway and footway.

The project was prompted after a study of the risks of vehicle incursions on to the railway track was carried out following the tragic accident at Selby in which 10 people were killed.

After this crash the Department of Transport recommended that each 'road over rail' site on the entire rail network be assessed for risk to reduce the chances of a road vehicle reaching a railway track.

Of the 124 sites inspected in Northern Ireland 18 were identified for treatment and Finaghy Road North was considered to pose the highest risk.

Train services will run as normal and Finaghy halt will remain operational throughout the works.

Some work can only be carried out at night to avoid disruption to rail services.

Diversionary routes via Blacks Road and Stockman's Lane will be well signposted and the closures advertised well in advance.

A pedestrian route will be retained adjacent to the bridge via a temporary footbridge spanning the railway line at all times.

However, the temporary footbridge may not be accessible for some people.

A shuttle bus will operate from 8.00am to 8.00pm Monday to Saturday between Ladybrook Park and Finaghy Cross Roads to cater for those with mobility difficulties.

Two public information days are being held to provide an opportunity for inspection of the plans. Staff will be on hand to explain the proposals and answer any questions.

These will take place at Andersonstown Library, Slievegallion Drive on Monday (April 21) from 1.30 to 8.00pm and on Wednesday (April 23) at Finaghy Library on Finaghy Road South between the same times.

Information leaflets are being dropped to local residents and businesses and details of road closures will be advertised in the local press well in advance.

Updated information will be available on the Roads Service website at or can be obtained by speaking to a member of the project team on 028 9025 3169.