Traffic jams may be a thing of the past on the A2 Shore Road after commuters reported a vast improvement in the time taken to travel the route.
The upgraded dual carriageway, which has been open to traffic since September, was officially launched earlier this month by Minister for Regional Development, Michelle McIlveen.
The £50million scheme is a vital link in the strategic road network between Belfast and Carrickfergus, carrying on average around 35,000 vehicles each day.
And the drastic improvement in traffic congestion has drawn praise from commuters who use the arterial route.
Mid and East Antrim councillor Mark McKinty said: “I’m on both A2 and A8 virtually every day and they both make a huge difference to the commute.”
Fellow councillor, Lindsay Millar added: “I drive to and from Belfast every day. I still leave Carrick at 8am to be in Belfast for 9am but the road is clear until Whiteabbey village.
“[The] queue to get on the motorway is still there but it does make a massive difference.
“In the evening I can get home from Belfast in half an hour though; a few months ago it took an hour.”
Carrick resident Jo Zebedee also reported a marked difference in the journey to and from Belfast. “It’s brilliant. I leave at 9am and get into Belfast about 9.40am - I used to just about make 10 am meetings,” she said. “Getting home is a straight road through.”
However, East Antrim MLA Stewart Dickson cautioned that work still is still needed on other parts of the road network.
“The A2 upgrade really opens up east Antrim, but until the York Street interchange project is completed, traffic will continue to be tailed back at Whiteabbey village,” he said.
Responding to this claim, the Minister said: “We have to take each project as it comes; this was a £50million scheme and it resolves the problem of a major bottleneck for peak-time traffic travelling. It also generated well over half a million working hours for our local workforce.
“I want to thank householders, landowners, local businesses and road users for their patience, understanding and co-operation during the two and a half years construction has taken.”
The scheme widened approximately one and a quarter miles (1.9 kilometres) of the A2 Shore Road between Jordanstown Road and Station Road, upgrading the section of road to an urban dual carriageway.
A new dual carriageway of approximately one mile (1.6 kilometres) was built between Station Road and Seapark. Four roundabouts connect the new section of road to the existing road network.