Progress expected on A5, A6, rail and Strathfoyle greenway projects

Progress is imminent on fourkey transport projects with the Strathfoyle Greenway to open within weeks, the Arup rail review to report in the autumn, the A6 to open fully, and a public inquiry on the A5 to be reconvened.

Infrastructure Minister John O’Dowd said the first project which will link one of Derry’s most physically isolated communities with the city should officially open this month.

He said he hopes the example of the Strathfoyle Greenway will be followed in other areas. “I have just written to Councils inviting them to submit proposals for support for greenway and active travel schemes, such as the Strathfoyle Greenway in Derry, which is due to open late summer 2022, providing the rural communities with the opportunity to travel actively into Derry City Centre,” he said.

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Arup was commissioned to carry out an all-Ireland Strategic Rail Review last year. It will report in the autumn.

Minister O’Dowd has said he expects the engineering consultancy to finish its report in a matter of months.

“The Review is being undertaken to allow us to consider our rail network across this island with a view to how it can be improved for everyone.

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“The Review will examine the potential for rail connections across the island including how our existing connections could be improved and where new rail links would be best placed.

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“It will also examine how we can connect our rail network to areas across the island of Ireland, our international gateways through our ports and airports, and the potential for transporting freight using the rail network, whilst also considering how we can move to a low or zero emission rail network. It is anticipated that the Review will be completed in the autumn of 2022,” said Mr. O’Dowd.

Another key flagship project, the A6, will ‘open to traffic later this year’, the minister said.

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“A new Environmental Statement Addendum was published on March 16, 2022, commencing a consultation process that concluded on May 6, 2022. It is hoped that the Public Inquiry can be reconvened in the autumn,” he said. He described the project as of ‘significant strategic importance to the region’ and one that will ‘improve road safety’ and help ‘tackle regional imbalance, improve the economy, job prospects and prosperity, and connect communities across the island’.

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