Ulster Unionist Regional Development Minister, Danny Kennedy, today announced his decision to proceed with two stretches of the A5 Western Transport Corridor dual carriageway project.
This follows consideration of the Inspector’s Report into the A5 Public Inquiry, which was held last year. The Inspector’s Report and the Department’s Statement on the way forward have now been released.
The A5 forms part of the strategic road network. It comprises the main arteries of the Northern Ireland economy, linking towns, cities, air and seaports to help boost industry and commerce as well as facilitating tourist travel.
Funding for the two stretches of the A5 project, from New Buildings, Londonderry, to north of Strabane and from south of Omagh to Ballygawley, was announced on 14 February, subject to the outcome of the Public Inquiry.
Announcing his decision the Minister said: “The Inspectors recommended that the scheme should proceed as proposed by the Department, subject to a number of key recommendations, including the postponement of the Ballygawley to Aughnacloy section of the scheme and retaining the A4/A5 Tullyvar Road roundabout at Ballygawley.
“I concur with the main recommendations contained within the Inspector’s Report and I am satisfied that the proposed scheme will help to improve road safety and provide a more appropriate standard of road on this key strategic route.
“There are almost 1,400 junctions and accesses onto the existing A5 which contribute to the potential for accidents along this route. The collision history is a factor which cannot be ignored and the A5 upgrade will help to reduce the number of collisions by providing improved cross sections, forward visibility and alignment as well as separating strategic and local traffic.”
Commenting on the representations to the Public Inquiry Danny Kennedy said: “I am well aware of the strong local opposition to some elements of the scheme.
“Every effort has been made to reduce the impact of the road scheme on property and landowners. The rights of those affected are safeguarded and they will receive compensation in accordance with a series of Acts of Parliament, case law and established practice.”
“In addition to the legal safeguards I assure those land and property owners that Roads Service will continue to work to reach agreement and resolve, where possible, any outstanding individual difficulties."
The Minister concluded: “Today’s announcement brings welcome news to the local construction and quarry sectors. The construction industry estimates that the project, at its peak, will provide direct employment for over 800 workers and will help safeguard existing jobs in the industry.
“The A5 Western Transport Corridor is one of five key Transport Corridors in Northern Ireland and this upgrade will not only have positive economic and construction industry benefits but also help towards balancing regional infrastructure.”