The key infrastructure project was one of several discussed at a special meeting of Derry City & Strabane District Council’s Environment & Regeneration Committee on Monday.
Councillors were told the A6 Dungiven to Drumahoe Dualling flagship project represents an investment in the region of £220 million and will upgrade 25.5km of the A6 between Drumahoe and Dungiven to dual carriageway standard, including a bypass of Dungiven.
Construction of this dualling scheme is progressing well with approximately 95% of the earthworks completed to date. Ten structures are also substantially complete and works are ongoing on a further eleven. Recently the steel beams on the Ardmore Road Bridge were lifted into place over the River Faughan and beams were placed on the new structure at Liberty Glen.
In the coming weeks the existing Burntollet Bridge will be demolished to allow for the construction of the westbound section of the new Burntollet Bridge that crosses the River Ness.
Significant progress has also been made with the installation of culverts, mainline drainage, access tracks, the Park and Rides at Drumahoe and Claudy, utility diversions, and the pavement construction along the new mainline carriageway.
Councillors were told in the report that “Covid-19 initially disrupted or stopped many activities due to difficulties in the supply chain, social distancing requirements and staff absences. Although the situation is now much improved, Covid-19 continues to have an impact, however the scheme is expected to be complete in 2022, largely as planned.”
Meanwhile the A6 Randalstown to Castledawson 15km scheme has been completed.
The first phase between M22 at Randalstown and Toome which opened in August 2019 was “a significant milestone for the scheme, and welcome news for road users on this busy route (22,000 vehicles per day)” the report stated.
It adds: “Over the past 12 months good progress was made within the sensitive swan area between Toome Bypass and Deerpark Road with all major earthworks and drainage completed in line with Environmental commitments by the end of September 2020 permitting construction activities to continue through the winter period.
“The Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon visited the site on Friday 28 May 2021 to speak to those involved in the delivery of the scheme. This was just in advance of the removal of Temporary Traffic Management and 40mph speed restriction, allowing the entire dual carriageway to open on Monday 31 May 2021.”
DUP Alderman Maurice Devenney said the A6 developments were “very, very welcome”. “It’s moving along nicely. It’s nice to see it.”
Sinn Fein Councillor Christopher Jackson
Council members were also updated by the Department for Infrastructure on road maintenance, improvement works and active travel schemes in 2020/21 and those planned for 2021/22.
Divisional Roads Manager, Mr David McKinley said: “The 2020/21 year was unprecedented due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. However we worked closely with our contractors to develop new working practices to ensure that much needed road maintenance and improvement works could proceed and as a result most of our 2020/21 programme was successfully delivered despite the absence of work over the first part of the year.
“During the year a number of significant resurfacing schemes have been completed including Melmount Road, Foyle Embankment, Bellspark Road, Fyfin Road, Glenshane Road, Edenreagh Road, Ardmore Road and Carnanreagh Road.
“Minister Mallon is committed to the delivery of active travel schemes across Northern Ireland and to making walking and cycling a safer and more attractive option for people getting around. I am therefore pleased that we have also delivered a number of active travel improvements in year including the work in June 2020 at Queen’s Quay to widen the existing path and aid social distancing, introduction of a new controlled crossing on the Skeoge Link from Clon Elagh to Glenabbey and Phase 1 of a footway widening and new shared use path at Temple Road, Strathfoyle.
“As a result of £715,000 funding from the Minister’s Blue/Green Fund we will be progressing further schemes in the 2021/22 year including further phases of the shared cycleway at Strathfoyle to extend towards Maydown. These schemes will further enhance the active travel provision in the area.
“In the 2020/21 financial year Minister Mallon announced the roll out of part time 20mph speed limit schemes at 103 schools across Northern Ireland and I am pleased to confirm that nine schools across the Derry and Strabane Council area are in the process of benefitting from this programme. It is the Minister’s intention to take forward a further tranche of part-time 20mph speed limits at schools and all schools in the Derry and Strabane area will be assessed and prioritised to inform the 2021/22 programme.”
Continuing Mr McKinley said: “Total expenditure on street lighting during 20/21 amounted to £4,199,000 including £936,000 on energy costs and £890,000 on energy efficient LED replacement lanterns. Among the areas that received LED lighting included a retrofit of the existing ornate style lanterns within the city walls at Shipquay Street, The Diamond, Bishop Street, Butcher Street, Ferryquay Street, Mourne Bridge Victoria Bride and The Diamond, Castlederg.
“My staff will continue to develop local transport and safety schemes and maintenance programmes to enhance safety, improve traffic progression and provide measures for pedestrians and cyclists.”
Concluding Mr McKinley said: “I would also finally like to highlight a very successful year for the two A6 Flagship projects. You will be aware that we recently completed the Randalstown to Castledawson scheme and this has already brought significant benefits for the 22,000 vehicles using this key strategic route each day.