Dungiven bypass will go ahead in 2018. That’s the message from Infrastructure minister Chris Hazzard, who says the matter “isn’t even up for debate”.
Speaking exclusively to the ‘Derry Journal’ about the long-awaited Dungiven bypass, Mr Hazzard said the 5km scheme would take 18 months to complete.
“The message is very clear. It’s not even up for debate. The Dungiven bypass will go ahead and if it was within my power to start it sooner I would,” said the minister. “We said we would invest in the West and this includes Dungiven, a town which is choked at times with congestion. This is a priority.”
Dungiven resident, Vincent Gallagher has lived on Main Street for 48 years. He has watched traffic and levels of pollution rise in Dungiven.
“For heaven’s sake, we are waiting on a bypass for over 50 years. Dungiven is the only nationalist town between Derry and Belfast and it doesn’t have a bypass,” said Mr Gallagher.
“The traffic - lorries and buses and vans and cars - it never stops and the town has suffered over the years, not to mention our health. So, I’m happy to hear the minister say it’s a priority. I just hope he sticks to his word.”
A spokesperson for Dungiven Bypass Committee said alongside concerns over traffic congestion, they have major health concerns surrounding pollution levels.
“We welcome the statement from the minister, and the 2018 timetable and, hopefully, this will be adhered to and, hopefully, there won’t be any slippage,” he said.
Sinn Fein councillor Sean McGlinchey said: “The Dungiven bypass has to be delivered. Whatever has to happen, has to happen. Look at the town every evening at 5pm. The traffic is backed up for miles outside the town. Everywhere else has a bypass and Dungiven is still waiting.”
Colr. McGlinchey welcomed the minister’s commitment to work starting in 2018.
“Once the diggers are on site, people will be happy,” said Colr. McGlinchey.
“I’m not doubting the minister or the department, but people have been made so many promises in the past, we’ll wait and see.”