A5 upgrade given go ahead
A £330 million (€420 million) scheme to upgrade two stretches of road across two counties in Northern Ireland was given the green light today.
Work to build dual carriageways between Derry and Strabane and Omagh and Ballygawley, Co Tyrone, will begin in the autumn and take two and a half years to complete.
It could mean as many 800 new construction industry jobs.
Regional Development minister Danny Kennedy signalled the go-ahead following a public inquiry in the aftermath of objections by farmers whose land will be affected by the development of the A5, which carries a huge volume of traffic.
The first stretch runs for around 15km between New Buildings on the outskirts of Derry and Strabane, and the second, 22km between Omagh and Ballygawley.
A recommendation to upgrade the road between Ballygawley and neighbouring Aughnacloy on the Tyrone/Monaghan border has been postponed.
The minister said the new roads were key to the development of the economy. They would also help safety standards.
He said: “There are almost 1,400 junctions and accesses onto the existing A5 which contribute to the potential for accidents along this route.
“The collision history is a factor which cannot be ignored and the A5 upgrade will help to reduce the number of collisions by providing improved cross sections, forward visibility and alignment as well as separating strategic and local traffic.”
The public inquiry was held following an outcry by farmers and community groups.
Mr Kennedy added: “I am well aware of the strong local opposition to some elements of the scheme.
“Every effort has been made to reduce the impact of the road scheme on property and landowners. The rights of those affected are safeguarded and they will receive compensation in accordance with a series of acts of parliament, case law and established practice.
“In addition to the legal safeguards I assure those land and property owners that Roads Service will continue to work to reach agreement and resolve, where possible, any outstanding individual difficulties.”