Work is to get under way on a number of safety improvements at a busy junction in Lisburn where a cyclist lost his life in a road traffic collision almost three years ago.
Syrian refugee Mohammed Mahfouz Balid, a 47-year-old married father-of-four, had been cycling to work when he was involved in a collision with a lorry close to the Knockmore Road/Ballinderry Road intersection in March 2016.
Mr Balid worked as a dentist in Syria and had been trying to raise £5,000 to enable him to sit exams that would have allowed him to practise in the UK.
His tragic death – one of many serious road traffic collisions at the busy junction over the years – intensified calls for safety improvements at the site.
The Department for Infrastructure (DfI) has now revealed that work is due to commence on Thursday, January 31 on road safety improvements at the junction, including the creation of a number of pedestrian and cycle crossings.
The work, which is being funded by private developers who are constructing a nearby residential development, is expected to be substantially complete by July.
“The improvement work will include widening the Knockmore Road, realigning Ballinderry Road and the introduction of traffic signals to control all traffic movements through the junction, including a number of pedestrian and cycle crossings,” a DfI spokesperson explained.
Welcoming the planned start of work on the road upgrade, local Ulster Unionist councillor Alexander Redpath commented: “I have been campaigning for several years to secure improvements to this junction alongside my colleague Robbie Butler MLA.
“Last year Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council set up a cross-party committee to help deliver the improvements and I am glad this has met with success.
“Over the past 10 years there have been dozens of accidents on this stretch of road leading to serious injuries and at least one fatality. I hope the improved junction with new traffic lights will help ensure there are no more serious accidents or fatalities.”
The DfI spokesperson warned that some disruption is likely during the roadworks, saying: “To ensure the safety of road users and workers during construction it will be necessary to operate a number of off peak road and lane closures. A temporary speed limit will also be in operation. Road users are asked to comply with all temporary traffic restrictions and to drive with care when travelling through the works. Pedestrian access will be maintained at all times.
“The dates of lane and road closures will be dependent on the progress of the works and also on favourable weather conditions.
“Whilst the Department has carefully planned these road works and associated traffic management arrangements with the contractor in order to minimise any inconvenience to the public, road users should expect some delays and allow additional time when planning a journey.”