A55 (Northern Ireland)
|Location Map ( geo)|
|From:||Belfast City Airport (J380765)|
|To:||Belfast Fortwilliam (J330782)|
|Distance:||16 miles (25.7 km)|
|Meets:||A2, A20, A23, A24, A1, M1, A501 A52 A6|
|Former Number(s):||A504, B23, B38, B205, B208|
|Route outline (key)|
The A55 forms most of a ring around Belfast, with the northern section through the docks missing. The section of the road between the A2 at Tillysburn Junction and the M1 at Balmoral Interchange is the T14 Belfast Outer Ring Trunk Road.
Belfast Outer Ring
Starting just outside Belfast City Airport at Tillysburn Junction, the A55 heads along a short dual-carriageway section of the former A2 bypassed by the Sydenham bypass. After TOTSOing off the B505 Holywood Road, the D2 road forms a gap in the suburbs that have sprung up around it, reaching Belmont Road Roundabout with the B170. Shortly afterwards, there is a large signalised junction with the A20 Upper Newtownards Road, where the road narrows to S4 standard. This road, Knock Road, heads through leafy suburbia on the eastern edge of Belfast and, after crossing the disused railway that was to become the M7, becomes S2, though this only lasts for a third of a mile until the junction with Sandown Road, where S4 standard resumes, with the dual carriageway restarting after 100 yards or so.
At another large signalised junction, in the middle of Castlereagh, with the A23, the A55 becomes Upper Knockbreda Road. The carriageways go through some vertical separation, with the southbound/clockwise carriageway being higher than the other. In the middle of Newtownbreda new town, there is a series of large signalised junctions, including one with the A24 Saintfield Road. Not long afterwards, there is a large flare where the mainline towards Blacks Road Interchange was to plug into. Instead the A55 runs down what would have been slip roads to Milltown Road, which was mostly reconstructed offline as an S4.
At the Malone Roundabout, the A55 meets the B103. After half a mile, now heading north, the A55 TOTSOs again, this time the B23 that we've piggy-backed on for a mile continues ahead. Balmoral Road is an S2 that gets progressively narrower as you head west down the hill, at the bottom of which is an interesting GSJ with the A1 next to Balmoral Station.
Half a mile further on is Balmoral Interchange (junction 2) with the M1. Here the T14 ends. Shortly after this, the A55 meets the Falls Road and the B102 at Andersonstown Road Roundabout, with the Glen Road Roundabout with the A501 half a mile further on. Here the S4 road becomes the D2 Monagh bypass, climbing up Divis Mountain. Just after the T-junction B38 turns off, the dual-carriageway turns sharply right and narrows to S2, another hint that the plans for the Outer Ring were not fully realised.
At the end of the Monagh bypass, the road once again becomes S4, though only briefly as much of Springfield Road has been repainted so as to have cycle lanes and a middle hatched area. After passing through Springfield, the A55 TOTSOs for the third time, at a roundabout with the B38. Heading north on the West Circular Road, part of a previous plan for a Belfast ring road, the route has to TOTSO twice more, using a section of Ballygomartin Road to reach Twaddle Avenue, which takes the route to meet the A52 and B39 in Woodvale at a roundabout.
We turn left here, taking on part of the original route of the A52, to reach another TOTSO at traffic lights in Ballysillian. The A55 is now obviously of lower quality as not only do we remain S2 we also now lose primary status. The road descends Ballysillian Road, which briefly becomes S4 as we climb again. The road gradually bears round to the right and presently the street name becomes the telling North Circular Road. After a few tighter bends the road ends at traffic lights on the A6 Antrim Road.
From Milltown Road to Upper Newtownards Road, the A55 was originally B205. When parts were upgraded, it became the A504. From the B205 to B23, the road was formerly known as the B208. Middle sections of the B23 and B38 were upgraded to Class I to form the Outer Ring as well.