Infrastructure Minister Chris Hazzard has vowed to address decades of ‘neglect’ in the north west as he announced £160m to dual part of the Derry to Belfast road.
The Minister told the Journal today that he is making the A6 Derry to Belfast and the A5 Derry to Dublin route a priority, and has been working with his department and other officials to secure progress on both projects since taking office in May.
The Minister announced today that today’s massive investment will see the bottleneck A6 Toome to Castledawson stretch of the Derry to Belfast road dualled.
The scheme will provide approximately 14.7km of new dual carriageway, which will see journey times reduced between the north’s two main cities.
Mr Hazard said this was “great news” for the 18,000 commuters who travel on the route every day.
He said archeological and advance work is already under way, with construction set to begin in early October. This project will take three to three and a half years to complete.
He added that project consultants have now been appointed to look into the most appropriate route for the Dungiven by-pass, which is due to start in 2018.
In the meantime, he passed his department was actively seeking to attract the investment needed to dual the stretch into Derry City.
“The A6, like the A5 has been a priority of mine since taking office. We are dealing here with a deficit west of the Bann and that is historical, it’s a massive challenge dealing with 50 years of under investment and neglect and that is something I am going to make a dent in.
“The focus here is on joining up two of our cities on the island of Ireland.”
He said that potential investors have repeatedly raised the infrastructural and access issues when looking to the north west, and that the A6 and A5 projects will help address that.
Within the new scheme, the Minister said, there will be a considerable focus on social sustainability incorporating targeted recruitment and training opportunities for both young and long-term unemployed people.
Vesting orders for the project were signed by the Minister on Wednesday.