Harbour chief in call for funding for A1 relief road
Warrenpoint Harbour boss Peter Conway has called for the construction of a relief road between the A1 and Warrenpoint dual carriageway.
Currently all traffic going to and from the port wishing to get to the A1 has to travel through the already busy city centre of Newry.
The Harbour chief executive was speaking as it hosted the British Port Association's (BPA) annual conference, which attracted delegates from all over the UK and Ireland.
Mr Conway has been lobbying for the construction of the road for many years.
He said that it would be of "fantastic benefit to the port" and would tackle their biggest problem of traffic bottle-necking in Newry.
The Newry Southern Relief Road would be a one-mile link between the A2 Warrenpoint dual-carriageway and the A1 between Belfast and Dublin.
Mr Conway said: "We are looking to get the Warrenpoint A2 dual-carriageway connected to the Belfast-Dublin A1.
"We're hoping the Minister will help us get some European funding and also get it on the to-do list," Mr Conway added.
The chief executive added the new road would not only be beneficial for the port, but to the wider region.
"It would be a great benefit to the entire south Down region and indeed Newry city, which has a lot of bottle-necking and traffic problems.
"This would be removed immediately if the link was built."
In a speech at the conference, Regional Development Minister Danny Kennedy said: "Effective connectivity lies at the heart of our regional development ambitions and access to and from our ports is of strategic importance."
He admitted he was "looking at possibilities associated with our ports" and that included the construction of the Newry Southern Relief Road.
Mr Kennedy believes the bypass would have "the potential to benefit from EU funding", which would be able "to deliver the associated benefits within a shorter timeframe than would otherwise be possible through a wholly self-financing route."
The Minister added that upgrading of the A6 and improvements to the York Street interchange in Belfast were other projects which could also benefit from EU funding.
The speakers at the conference have included Mr Kennedy, MP Margaret Ritchie, and Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster.
The conference covers issues which affect the whole port industry, including risk management, the impact of weather on shipping, and ports in the community.
Warrenpoint, Belfast and Londonderry are all trust ports – and the biggest issue the conference discussed was the governance of ports, and trust ports in particular.
At the moment, the Executive at Stormont, and the governments in London and Scotland, are all looking at modifications and changes to how trust ports operate.
In 2013, Warrenpoint Harbour doubled its pre-tax profits to £850,000.