Roads Service could be onsite building the A6 within the next year, a senior figure within the organisation has said.
Deirdre Mackle, northern division roads manager, made the comments while delivering the annual roads report for Londonderry.
Ms Mackle told Derry City Council’s Regional Services Committee that Roads Service “can deliver accelerated programmes if the Executive gives us approval”.
“I would be cautiously optimistic we could be on the ground next year if we get approval,” she said.
The A6 will see Northern Ireland’s main two cities Belfast and Derry finally connected by a continuous dual carriageway, with the Dungiven to Londonderry and Randalstown to Castledawson sections expected to be prioritised. This would help slash journey times along the 75-mile route and is deemed as one of the main projects necessary for advancing the Northern Ireland economy.
Mrs Mackle confirmed that the A6 project is on a shortlist which could now benefit from money set aside for the stalled A5 project.
Hundreds of millions are set to be re-allocated after the High Court halted the development of the A5 road from Derry to Ballygawley.
Ms Mackle said: “At this stage the department still vigorously continues to pursue the A5 corridor scheme.”
In Derry city itself Mrs Mackle announced that there will be a £200,000 project to introduce safety measures including traffic lights on the Springtown Road/Northland Road junction this summer.
A park and ride scheme will also be erected for those wishing to travel to Derry from Belfast during the City of Culture year and beyond, following the success of the expanded Drumahoe park and ride scheme in Derry.
A further £400,000 is to be spent upgrading the 1980s gantry on the Foyle Bridge, with a contractor already appointed.
“We hope to have the gantry operable by the summer to do some painting work,” Ms Mackle said.
Committee chairman, Sinn Fein Councillor Barney O’Hagan, welcomed the fact that £11.5m had been spent on road schemes in Co Derry over the past year. He said it was striking that not a penny had been spent on strategic road investment or network development.
His party colleague Eric McGinley urged the Roads Service to ensure the A6 and other road projects in the north west are “shovel ready” for when funding does become available.
SDLP Councillor Martin Reilly said that “people in the north west shouldn’t have to cherry pick between the A5 and the A6”.
“Both deserve funding and I am glad to hear the department is pursuing the A5 project,” he added.