The A6 and A5 roads are deserving of a high funding priority

News Letter editorial
News Letter editorial

When two of the biggest road projects in Northern Ireland’s history are completed, the A5 and the A6, the Province’s overall transport infrastructure will have been significantly upgraded.

The two routes will radically improve access to Londonderry, and movement in general between the south and east of Northern Ireland and the north west.

Both roads are currently single carriageway for much of their distance, so that intercity traffic gets caught behind tractors. They both also go through towns such as Dungiven and Strabane, causing pollution and congestion in the towns, and further delaying long-distance traffic.

Demanding an upgrade on these routes is easily done. Achieving it is harder. Both roads at points have relatively low traffic levels, and both will cost huge sums of money to upgrade into what is known as high quality dual carriageway (a category of road design just below motorway).

But for all the financial constraints on Stormont, there ought to be plenty of money for infrastructure.

While a good health and welfare system lies at the heart of any civilised society, hundreds of millions of pounds a year in Northern Ireland could be saved by reforming and improving provision of those two essential sets of services.

The Republic of Ireland pledged to help fund the A5, but had to scale back its commitment after the financial crash of almost a decade ago. However, it is still pledged to help finance some of the cost of that route upgrade.

There was a time when unionists were excessively defensive about the A5 upgrade plans, due to the nationalist enthusiasm, but a better road will be safer and more efficient for the whole community.

The sections of the A6 that need most attention are the Moneynick Road near Toome and the Dungiven bypass.

The A5 and A6 projects are deserving of a high priority in Stormont’s budget.