Excellent news that work will begin on upgrading part of A5
A number of important road upgrade schemes on major routes in Northern Ireland have been completed or at least begun over the last decade.
They are the widening of the final single carriageway sections of the A1, between Sprucefield and the border south of Newry; the construction of a dual carriageway between Dungannon and Ballygawley on the A4; the completion of an A8 dual carriageway to the port of Larne; the widening of the last single carriageway sections of the Belfast to Carrickfergus A2; the widening of the A26 Frosses Road between Glarryford and the A44 near Ballymoney; and the widening of the A6 from the end of the M22 to Castledawson.
The latter of those schemes is partially under way and partially on hold following a failed environmental challenge.
These new roads or stretches of road have greatly improved Northern Ireland’s infrastructure, and greatly reduced both driver frustration and travel-time uncertainty for businesses.
They have also replaced some of the most dangerous single carriageway roads in Northern Ireland.
Other routes in the Province still need to be upgraded, including the A26 between Moira and Templepatrick, past Aldergrove, and much of the Belfast to Newcastle road.
But attention is now focussing on three road schemes: the York Street interchange in Belfast, which will seamlessly link the congested M2, M3 and Westlink, and the two most important roads to Londonderry, the A5 and the A6.
There has been much unhelpful and exaggerated talk about discrimination against the Northwest. In truth, almost all stretches of the A5 and A6 have lower traffic levels than the aforementioned roads that have already been upgraded.
Even so, there is cross-community agreement that we need good road access Northern Ireland’s second city.
Thus it is excellent news that work will begin next year on a stretch of the A5, north of Strabane. Also that work will soon begin on another key stretch of the A6, past Dungiven.
These projects are a very valuable use of taxpayers’ funds.