There’s so much happening in the North West over the next few years, new footbridge, public realm, university expansion, tourism signature project and a continuing flow of annual festivals and events for visitors.
So, it’s no surprise that the recent announcement of the route of the Dungiven bypass and the 30km stretch of the final leg of the A6 Belfast to Londonderry road has been enthusiastically welcomed by Chamber President Jim Sammon.
“The construction of this bypass and modern dual carriageway will really open up the NW as an economic force,” he said.
“As well as bringing some degree of travelling comfort to the thousands of daily commuters, the Chamber strongly believes that the development of this infrastructure will be a major catalyst for economic success.
“As one of the key access corridors for the NW of the region, the new road will help to spread more fairly and balance more equitably the economic development on the island of Ireland.
“Our vision is of a road that brings more people to the city and region than it takes away, brings more jobs to the city that it takes away and brings more investment to the city than it takes away.”
Now that Regional Development Minister Conor Murphy has announced the preferred route for the long awaited Dungiven bypass and dual carriageway between Dungiven and Derry, we are a step closer to a scheme which will significantly ease congestion on the main Derry — Belfast road.
The 30km upgrade will be the biggest single road scheme ever undertaken in Northern Ireland, with the three-year construction phase now on schedule to begin in 2012.
Derry, as the NW regional capital, is embarking on a substantial regeneration programme with the aim of transforming the city’s fortunes.
The Minister also announced a substantial investment programme for the Strabane Council Area.
Derry Chamber has stressed time and time again that a successful Strabane will be a critical component to the overall success of the NW region, just as a successful NW will be critical to the success of Northern Ireland and the Island of Ireland.
Regeneration in Derry is not just about building up a single city, but rather about giving the NW region a capital that can do the business for the region. And that NW region also encompasses Donegal.
Governments on both sides of the border have continually expressed commitment to the development of the cross border region and yet so many of our strategies and delivery bodies and mechanisms work independently.
What is required now is a co-ordinated approach to the key economic drivers such as tourism, health and third level education.
Mr Sammon also commented on the Minister’s words in relation to the Executive’s priorities for the city.
He concluded: “The Minister said that this investment is central to the Executive's priorities for Derry and for the North West, as a whole, in maximising and realising its full economic potential.
“I’m delighted to hear the ministers renewed commitment to the city and I’m sure he will do all in his power to help us reach that full economic potential.
“The Dungiven — Derry dual carriageway, built within the agreed timeframe, if not a bit faster, will go a long way to the achievement of that goal.”
Janice Tracey is chief executive of Londonderry Chamber of Commerce