Consultants have begun work on a new junction strategy and environmental surveys in connection with a proposed carriageway along the length of the Buncrana road.
The Department for Infrastructure last night confirmed the latest developments in relation to the plans along one of the city’s main arterial routes.
Officials also said that the entire cost of the Buncrana Road project is expected to be the in the region of £50m to £60m.
“The Department has appointed engineering consultants Arup to assist with development of a scheme to upgrade the A2 Buncrana road between Pennyburn roundabout and the border with County Donegal,” a Departmental spokesperson said.
“Following traffic surveys conducted earlier this year, the consultant is developing a traffic model to assist the development of a junction strategy.
“This will enable the carriageway and junction designs to be refined sufficiently to assist the identification of the preferred alignment.”
The spokesperson said that the scheme objective is to provide a four lane carriageway from Pennyburn Roundabout to the border at Bridgend, a distance of around 4.5km.
“Current estimates put the cost of the scheme in the range £50m to £60m,” she said.
It is now over a decade since the proposal to widen the Buncrana Road to four lanes between Pennyburn Roundabout and the border at Bridgend was detailed in the Regional Strategic Transport Network Plan.
Public consultation on the proposed project began in April 2007, with a preferred route announced two years later, but dualling work along the route has never started.
The Department for Infrastructure spokesperson confirmed that environmental surveys are currently underway.
She said that this was “to identify any significant constraints and assist the development of an Environmental Statement”.
In terms of next steps for the project, the spokesperson added: “Subject to the availability of funding the publication of the Draft Orders and Environmental Statement could take place in 2020, with a public consultation event taking place sometime prior to this to invite public comment and opinion.”
The firm tasked with examining the economic, environmental, engineering and traffic advantages, disadvantages and constraints associated with the long-awaited major road scheme along the Buncrana Road (below), have informed local residents of the latest stage of the project.
In letters issued to some residents living along the Buncrana Road, a senior ARUP Engineer stated that during the present phase of the scheme, a number of surveys are being conducted to assess environmental constraints. The letter, which has been seen by the Journal, states that the study area comprises a wide area which extends from the Pennyburn Roundabout and the border with County Donegal.
Ecologists are to conduct the ‘walkover surveys’, which will take in field boundaries and watercourses.
The findings will be used, Arup states, to update previous surveys for protected species, including badgers and otters. Bat, wintering and breeding bird surveys will also be conducted through until March 2018.
Arup have been at the forefront of developing some of the largest infrastructure projects in the UK.