The Department of Infrastructure (DfI) told the ‘Journal’ a third road bridge across the Foyle is being considered. It is an active option within the North West Transport Study (NWTS), which was published in June 2021. It is down as part of a package of ‘orbital roads’.
“The NWTS has concluded that this should be considered further as part of the Transport Plan to be prepared in conjunction with the Derry City & Strabane District Council Local Development Plan,” a spokesperson confirmed.
NWTS modelling suggests an ‘Orbital Urban Road’ and bridge linking the A5 at Newbuildings with the A2 at Coshquin is a potential viable transport measure but needs further exploration.
“It is not clear whether an A5 Prehen – new bridge – Coshquin A2 route would attract sufficient traffic to deliver relief to the existing Craigavon Bridge - Foyle Expressway - Queen’s Quay - Strand Road - Buncrana Road route, especially with an improved Buncrana Road scheme. It is recommended that this scheme is tested with a more detailed model at the LPP [Local Policies Plan]stage,” the NWTS states.
Local councillor Patricia Logue said she would support the development as part of wider plans for the Foyle valley south of the city.
“I have asked that a cycle route and pathway from Nixon’s Corner out to Killea Village be made a priority and that the possibility of a third road bridge to ease traffic congestion and greater connectivity is looked at,” she said.
A third road bridge across the Foyle at Newbuildings or Prehen was suggested in a report commissioned by the Department for Regional Development over ten years ago.
‘Improved Roads Linking Around Londonderry’, in February 2010, said it could ‘provide substantial relief but it would require careful consideration of linkages to the existing network’. A decade on and the option has not been ruled out. A DfI spokesperson said the new NWTS considered the bridge among a range of schemes.
“The movement of people and vehicles in conjunction with potential new land use developments were considered in the NWTS.
“The NWTS considered a range of transport schemes including parking management, local walking and cycling improvements, new bus and rail services, traffic management and road schemes,” the spokesperson confirmed.
The NWTS notes how the network becomes congested at peak times and identifies pinch points as: ‘the bridges and their junctions; the primary roads on the Waterside (Limavady Rd and Dungiven Rd) linking the A2 and A6 beyond Crescent Link (A514) to Craigavon Bridge; the radial routes on the Cityside (Buncrana Rd, Strand Rd, Branch Rd and Creggan Rd) linking the cross-border N13 and the residential areas to the City Centre’.
If the city continues to grow congestion will get worse. “Without additional transport infrastructure, the AM peak hour traffic levels in 2030 are forecast to increase by approximately 300 vehicles on Craigavon Bridge (130 east bound and 170 west bound), 500 vehicles on the Foyle Bridge (250 east bound and 250 west bound) and 200 vehicles on the Foyle Expressway (50 south bound and 150 north bound) for the Housing Growth Indicator (HGI) base Planning Development Scenario 1 (PDS1),” the NWTS warns.