Bus stops still operating as Realm restarts

Public Realm works underway last year on Ballymoney Street. (Editorial Image).
Public Realm works underway last year on Ballymoney Street. (Editorial Image).

Town centre bus stops are still operating despite the restart of Ballymena Public Realm Scheme works following a Christmas moratorium.

No major work was undertaken on the multi-million pound streetscape scheme between November 16 to January 4 and this enabled Translink to re-instate its popular bus stops at Wellington Street and Broughshane Street which had been temporarily re-located to The Pentagon last August to facilitate pavement works in the centre of town.

A Translink spokesperson has confirmed to The Ballymena & Antrim Times that while the contractor is now back on site, the two previously affected bus stops remain operational.

The spokesperon stated: “Town services are still operating via Wellington Street and Broughshane Street in Ballymena. Translink are carrying out risk assessments on a regular basis to ensure the roads are safe for services.”

The 18-month £4.2m Public Realm Scheme, which is being jointly funded by Mid & East Antrim Council and the Department for Social Development (£2.6m), began in May 2015 and impacts on the four central thoroughfares of Wellington Street, Broughshane Street, Ballymoney Street and Church Street as well as Broadway.

The scheme aims to significantly enhance public space, accessibility and safety within the town centre and is expected to add new vitality to the area.

Its main features include the creation of a main focal point for the town centre and public space at Broadway; the use of high quality materials such as granite kerbs and paving, bespoke street lighting, street furniture and signage and the promotion of a ‘People First’ approach to rebalance pedestrian and traffic requirements.

An update report to Mid & East Antrim Council’s Economic Growth & Development Committee last week pointed out “the nature of such works are disruptive” and that Council “are still receiving regular complaints from a variety of sources”.

“Council officers will continue to ensure stakeholder engagement continues and will respond to complaints expeditiously and with courtesy and integrity through the Contractor,” the report stated.

A Council officer confirmed that the contractor had been back on site since January 4 and, following stakeholder concerns, had agreed that there would be a “focus on catching up with the schedule.”

The officer reminded members that each street involved in the scheme was broken down into four sections A to D of which work on two (A & B) had been completed with the exception of ‘specials’ such as curved kerbing.

The committee was told that businesses had been given details of the work due to start in January which will focus on completing ‘specials’ prior to the commencement of work on new sections.

Signage for barriers, advertising car parking for £1, are being prepared for installation by the end of January when the next new sections of work are due to get underway.