Roy Beggs MLA said:
“A report on journey times relating to the Regional Strategic Transport Network and focusing on key transport corridors was recently tabled at the Regional Development Committee. The statistics contained in this report, which I highlighted to fellow MLAs, show in stark terms, the increasing gridlock on the A2 Carrickfergus to Belfast road and an average speed of less that 10mph through the Greenisland bottle neck.”
The figures show that in 2007 during the peak travel time of 730 to 915am it took an average of 18 minutes and 14 seconds to travel the 7 miles from Carrickfergus Castle to the point where the M2 and M5 converge on the way into Belfast. By 2009 the same journey took an average of 25 minutes 31 seconds. An increase of 7 minutes, 17 seconds. The average vehicle speed at the same time and on the same route was 22.95 miles per hour in 2007, but it fell to 16.4 mph by 2009, a 28.55% reduction.
The Ulster Unionist MLA stated “No other key transport corridor in the whole of Northern Ireland has seen such a reduction in vehicle speed and increase in journey times at morning rush hour. What is even more galling is that whilst the previous Sinn Fein DRD Minister put the upgrade of the A2 at Greenisland on hold, and insisted on prioritizing the elevation of the A5 from the border through County Tyrone to Londonderry to almost motorway standard, figures from the A5 show improved journey times and less congestion in recent times!
Roy Beggs said “The report also showed that over 23km of the exist A5 route already had an average speed of over 50mph between £800m and £1b is being earmarked for a virtual motorway. Why is sufficient funding not available from the budget for the A2 and why did the DUP and Sinn Fein ring fence money for the A5 at the expense of the A2 which is presently one of the Road Service’s too unfunded priorities?”
The 2009 Regional Strategic Transport Network Journey Time Report actually notes that the A5 between Aughnacloy to Londonderry has experienced a reduction in average journey times during the morning peak period. Point 4.2.5 of the Report states “The greatest improvement in journey time was noted on KTC 4 Northbound which runs from the border at Aughnacloy to Londonderry. The results show that in the AM peak the average journey time for this route has decreased from 1 hour 52 minutes 42 seconds to 1 hour 18 minutes 7 seconds which equates to a reduction of 35 minutes 4 seconds (31.12%)”
Commenting, East Antrim MLA Roy Beggs said:
“This Report is more clear evidence that there is no objective, rational or economic reason to prioritize the A5 Expressway project. The money which was allocated in the spring budget- which was approved by Sinn Fein, DUP and the Alliance- was a disastrous mistake. Clearly projects which are more deserving on a cost base analysis- like the A2 Greenisland, the A26 Frosses, A6 Castledawson Bypass and others should be prioritized. I hope that the new Minister even at this late stage has enough room to reverse the disastrous decisions of his predecessor so that funding will be available where it is really needed.”