Following confirmation from Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon that the A1 between the Hillsborough roundabout and Loughbrickland will be improved along a 25km stretch, Alliance councillor Brian Pope said new safety measures were needed urgently.
The plan for phase 2 of the A1 upgrade, along with other improvements to the A24 Ballynahinch bypass, the A29 Cookstown bypass and a number of other major roads, was announced last week, however, the A1 project has been the subject of a public inquiry.
Cllr Pope said: “I welcome the announcement from the Infrastructure Minister, Nichola Mallon, of her intention to progress the A1 improvements scheme as part of a number of strategic infrastructure schemes and flagship projects.
“Together with local campaigners, we have continually pushed for road safety improvements on the A1 after a series of deaths and other accidents. So it is critical that these works are now progressed as soon as possible.”
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Cllr Pope added: “As the scheme is still subject to the outcome of a public inquiry, which was held in March, we maintain that temporary road safety measures are installed as a matter of urgency on this dangerous road.
“We will continue to press for both the temporary road safety measures and the main A1 improvement works to be progressed as soon as possible, but believe the Minister’s announcement is a step in the right direction.”
Other road upgrades being progressed by the Department for Infrastructure include the A4 Enniskillen southern bypass, the Newry southern relief road, the A2 Buncrana Road and the A32 from Omagh to Enniskillen.
Last week the department said the minister has “asked officials to work at pace to progress these schemes” and that the minister “intends to provide further announcements later to keep the public updated on progress”.
The statement added: “The Minister has also reaffirmed her commitment to the A5 and A6 schemes. While Covid-19 has impacted construction work on the A6, this is continuing and it is hoped that the Toome to Castledawson section could be completed in Spring 2021.”
Mrs Mallon said: “I have also asked officials to bring forward proposals to progress Narrow Water Bridge, a commitment in New Decade New Approach, which would fully explore the environmental and economic benefits this project would deliver for the people of south Down.
“While these are uncertain and difficult times, with a focus on green recovery, I also recognise that our road infrastructure needs updated to relieve traffic in towns, explore options for active travel and reshape our places to deliver towns and cities that work for our communities and aid economic growth.”
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