Ben Lowry: Three needed road upgrades that are in the news — the A1, the A5 and the A75

The A5 upgrade from Newbuildings to Strabane was due to get under way within weeks

Three major road routes that are of interest to Northern Ireland drivers have been in the news this week.

The A5 upgrade in the northwest of the Province is facing another environmental challenge before a section of it goes to construction.

One of the dangerous gap junctions on the A1 (with the Listullycurran Road). There is a plan to close and replace all such junctions but it is only crawling towards fruition

This raises the question of whether our road planning systems are rigorous enough, and if so, why such challenges are allowed after the road has been approved.

The A1 junction improvements are crawling towards fruition.

This involves a crucial plan to close all the so-called gap junctions in the central reservation between Lisburn and Loughbrickland.

Such junctions are deadly on any road, but particularly on one as busy as the Sprucefield to Newry A1. I find it a stressful road to drive because I have reported on several fatalities on that route at those gap junctions. As you drive down the road, vehicles come across the road from those junctions like darts.

The A75, which runs for 95 miles from Stranraer towards the M6 motorway, is overwhelmingly single carriageway and still passes through two villages. Above a bypass of Dunragit, another village on the route,' that opened in recent years

A number of new flyover junctions will be built so that no-one can turn right across the road.

Anyone turning right will first have to drive left to a flyover junction, and then cross at that point, before heading in the direction they wanted to go.

This upgrade is urgently needed, yet it is only going to ‘consultation’.

When gap junctions finally are closed, there will at last be an almost flawless road link the entire distance from Belfast to Dublin.

A new ferry for Stena Line arrives in Dublin Port in 2015, to begin operating on the Dublin-Holyhead route, which is becoming an increasingly attractive road and sea route to England

Which brings me to the last road that was in the news: the A75 between Stranraer and the Scottish border with England. It is a dangerous single carriageway in which cars get caught behind lorries and so overtake, which is potentially lethal.

The much-needed upgrade of the road was debated at Westminster and supported by MPs including Nigel Dodds.

I love driving via the A75 to England, but until it is improved the better route is via Dublin. There is a motorway right to Dublin port, and then a dual carriageway or motorway all the way from Holyhead.

When the A1 upgrade is complete, it will be all the better as a route.

• Ben Lowry (@BenLowry2) is News Letter deputy editor

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