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Best of the west

West Belfast is on the road to nowhere now

By Squinter

WEST Belfast has traffic, Squinter’s pretty sure it does. The Glen Road is a nightmare much of the time – you try driving from the Andytown News office to the Falls bus depot during the morning school run, or the other way at teatime on a Christmas shopping evening, and you can make your own mind up.

The Andersonstown Road (pictured) is pretty bad too, you’ll know that if you’ve ever been stuck at 5.45pm on a dark, wet Wednesday evening in a taxi, bus or a car outside Casement where the two lanes narrow into one; and the Busy Bee car park extends out on to the road as the traffic grinds to a halt between 8am and 9am.

And let’s not forget the upper Springfield, where traffic often tails back to way below the fire station and firefighters receiving an emergency call may as well forget about sliding down the pole until the traffic clears. Finaghy has its moments too, as do Whiterock Road, Blacks Road, Stewartstown Road, Grosvenor Road and Broadway.

All of this, however, seems of little or no import to BBC This Here Pravince’s traffic and travel team, to whom the above thoroughfares are as strange and alien as the Trans Siberian Highway or the Dandong-Lhasa Expressway. The TV and radio bulletins are the same every morning and every afternoon – Belfast-centred, of course, but only certain parts of Belfast and never its most populous quarter: the West.

So you’ve got tailbacks on the Nelson Street offslip. There’s chaos on the Sandyknowes roundabout. A broken-down car has closed one lane on the Sydenham Bypass. They’re helicoptering stranded drivers off the Holywood Exchange. Trooperslane in Belfast direction is backed up worse than Gregory Campbell’s bog. It’s bumper to bumper near Dee Street.

The West of the city exists only insofar that parts of it abut the Westlink. So you’ve got Broadway, but not the Red Devil end – the bit where the big white balls are. You’re got Divis Street, but not the part underneath the Tower, only the bit where the bridge crosses the motorway. Same story with Blacks Road, Stockmans and the Grosvenor. The citybound Westlink offslip signs on the left after Lisburn, as far as Ormeau Avenue is concerned, read ‘Here Be Dragons’.

Always better to light a candle than curse the darkness, of course, and so Squinter decided that he’d fill the BBC in on what’s going on in this part of the town. As he sat in the middle of a particularly lengthy tailback, Squinter texted this message to BBC Ulster:

‘Giant panda giving birth in Falls bus lane near St Louise’s. Traffic backed up to the Ballymac.’ To be fair, they texted back straight away, but not in the way Squinter had hoped: ‘Yes, very interesting. But have you any idea of what the traffic’s like on the Knock dual carriageway near Forestside?’

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