Regional Development Minister Conor Murphy today revealed the preferred routes for two new dual carriageways from Belfast to Larne and Londonderry to Aughnacloy, at a cost of £1bn.
Mr Murphy met with the Republic’s Transport Minister Noel Dempsey TD in Co Meath earlier today to announce the preferred corridors for the massive A5 and A8 projects.
Speaking after the meeting, Mr Murphy said completion of the routes “will provide significant benefits in terms of improving safety and journey time reliability, and this will have consequential benefits for business, and the overall economy”.
The two projects, which include a £400m contribution from the Republic’s government, form part of an overall strategy to improve the network of key transport corridors across Northern Ireland.
Mr Murphy said: “I am pleased to report the excellent progress on these two significant projects and that the first key milestone, which is the production of preliminary option reports including recommendations for preferred corridors, has been met on both projects.
“Completion of these reports leads on to the next stage of the projects which is the development of route options within the corridors.
“These options will be going out to public consultation and I would encourage people living in or near the preferred corridors on either scheme to attend the consultation events.”
The A5 project which, at a length of over 80km, is the largest ever road scheme undertaken in the north, will upgrade the entire Western Corridor, from Derry to the border at Aughnacloy via Strabane and Omagh, to dual carriageway status.
Consultation on the A5 route options is expected to take place in early 2009.
All landowners in the A5 study area will receive direct notification of the preferred corridor location as well as advance notice of the public consultation events which will be held at a number of locations along the route.
The A5 scheme website www.a5wtc.com will contain an interactive map of the preferred corridor and other information.
The A8 project will complete a minimum standard of dual carriageway along the Eastern Seaboard Corridor which runs from Larne through Belfast to the border at Newry.
For the A8 scheme two corridors will be taken forward to the next stage of the assessment — preferred route selection.
A public consultation event associated with the A8 scheme will be held at Corr's Corner Hotel, Ballyclare Road, Newtownabbey on Tuesday and again on Wednesday between 1pm and 9pm.