Cost of A5 soars to £1.6bn – three times the original cost

The cost of the A5 has soared to £1.6billion – three times the projected outlay when the road upgrade was announced 15 years ago.
The cost of the A5 road project has soared.The cost of the A5 road project has soared.
The cost of the A5 road project has soared.

A new economic appraisal published by the Department of Infrastructure reveals that, after taking into account of current prices and factoring in future inflation, the cost of the scheme has risen substantially.

"The scheme capital investment costs for which approval is sought amounts to circa £1,609M. This is based on the outturn cost of the scheme at Q2 2022 prices plus an allowance for future inflation from 2022 to 2028, Quantified Risks and Optimism bias (i.e. other risks associated with the scheme that is not yet quantified),” the new Economic Appraisal Report (Outline Business Case 2022).

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The new estimate shows the cost of the vital project has almost trebled from £560m when it was announced in 2007.

Just two and a half years ago John McGrath, deputy secretary of transport and resources at DfI, told the Stormont Infrastructure Committee that the A5 would likely cost in the region of £1billion. It has thus increased by more than the original total estimated cost since 2020.

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The new appraisal was among a range of supplementary information put out for public consultation this week.

The new reports relate to new information on a new OBC; updates and additional information on scheme alternatives; scheme phasing; agricultural industry impacts and further background information on proposed mitigation measures at Tully Bog.

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The major road upgrade has been delayed by a number of legal challenges over the past decade and a half.

However, it is considered crucial for both economic and road safety reasons.

The fresh OBC update points to its importance for the economic development of the north west.

“The quality of the existing A5 is generally viewed as a barrier to economic growth, as journey times are made unreliable by congestion caused at bottlenecks at junctions in key towns, a lack of overtaking opportunities and slow-moving agricultural traffic along the route,” the new appraisal states.

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The new analysis estimates that the upgrade will prevent 3,793 road casualties over a 60 year period and will save 36 lives. This will save the public purse £124.92m.

Prior to leaving office last month the last Infrastructure Minister John O’Dowd said he hoped the road could still be completed by 2028, although a reconvened public inquiry must first take place next year.

“Subject to the successful completion of all the necessary statutory processes and environmental assessments, the construction phase could then commence by early 2024.

“The programme for scheme delivery in recent years has alluded to full scheme completion by 2028 and although some slippage has occurred, this timeframe remains achievable,” said Mr. O’Dowd, in response to an Assembly Question last month.

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The Department is now encouraging anyone with ‘an interest in this significant flagship project to make their views known during this consultation period’.

To have your say write to the Divisional Roads Manager, DFI Roads - Western Division, County Hall, Drumragh Avenue, Omagh BT79 7AF, or email [email protected] before December 23, 2022.

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