The confirmation of £160m funding for improvements to the A6 between Londonderry and Belfast will have huge economic and safety benefits for businesses and local residents.
The Infrastructure Minister Chris Hazzard has announced his decision to proceed with the dualling of a 14.7km stretch of the road from Randalstown to Castledawson.
Ground investigation is already under way and work is expected to start in October.
The Freight Transport Association (FTA) has lobbied for improvements to this route for a long time so we are delighted that this first stage of the upgrade will soon get under way.
The A6 has been a constant source of frustration to our members in Northern Ireland due to the long delays many of them suffer when transporting goods on this road.
An improved and more efficient A6 will not only reduce costs but will open up the north west region for investment, as the ability to get goods to market efficiently and cheaply is a key criterion in attracting such investment and growth.
The improvements will also bring road safety benefits as most of the current A6 is single carriageway, with HGVs over 7.5 tonnes restricted to a maximum speed of 40mph while cars are restricted to a maximum 60mph.
This not only leads to long tailbacks but dangerous overtaking manoeuvres by some car drivers.
The new dual carriageway will enable safer overtaking opportunities while goods vehicles can travel at a more efficient speed.
We will continue to lobby for further improvements to the A6, with particular emphasis on bringing forward plans for the development of a dual carriageway by-pass of Dungiven which already suffers from heavy traffic and vehicle pollution.
• Seamus Leheny is Policy Manager for Freight Transport Association in Northern Ireland.
The FTA can trace its origins back to 1889 and says it is “recognised as the voice of the freight and logistics industry, representing the transport interests of companies moving goods by road, rail, sea and air”