The official opening of the first phase of the £185m A6 Randalstown to Castledawson dualling scheme took place this morning.
Department for Infrastructure Permanent Secretary, Katrina Godfrey, cut the red ribbon helped by two local school children.
Mid Ulster District Council Chairperson, Cllr Martin Kearney, and Alderman John Smyth of Newtownabbey Council along with the dual carriageway's contractors attended the ceremony near Toome.
Traffic was allowed to use a 7km stretch dual carriageway for the first time in August, however, lane and speed restrictions remained in place while works continued at the M22 Junction.
Those final works have now been completed and the whole 7.5km stretch of new dual carriageway will be fully open between Toome and the M22 at Randalstown this week.
Ms Godfrey said: “The A6 is a strategically important route as it connects the North West to Belfast and beyond. The construction of the Flagship Randalstown to Castledawson Dualling scheme will contribute to the economic development of the region and bring long term benefits to road users and local communities.
"It is also helping to secure jobs in the construction industry, with the vast majority of construction spend going directly to the local economy.
“The completion of the first phase is a significant milestone for the scheme and welcome news for the 20,000 vehicles using the route each day.
"The feedback from road users since the opening of the first stretch of new dual carriageway has already been extremely positive, with shorter, safer and more reliable journey times already experienced.
"With the works in this section now completed and the traffic restrictions removed, road safety will be further enhanced for car user, freight and the public transport services along this route.
“Delivering extensive improvements to the roads infrastructure involves the cooperation and understanding of the local community. I acknowledge the impact that this scheme has had on residents, landowners, businesses and road users.
"The Department and our Joint Venture partners, GRAHAM Farrans would like to thank all those impacted for their patience and support during the works.”
The Toome to Castledawson section is due to be completed in early 2021.