Minister approves £100m road route
Work on the new £100 million dual carriageway between Larne and Belfast will begin next month after the Roads Minister approved a route.
The nine-mile stretch of the A8 rubber stamped by Danny Kennedy will bypass the village of Ballynure despite opposition from some business owners, who claimed passing trade would be taken away.
The improved link between the M2 motorway and the busy freight port will also skirt around the townland of Bruslee.
The scheme will see the A8 upgraded from the Coleman's Corner roundabout near Ballyclare to just outside Larne. It will connect the parts of the A8 that are already dual carriage.
Mr Kennedy made his decision after considering a roads inspector's report on a proposed route and comes after a public inquiry on the plan.
The money was made available by the Executive in February after it scaled down its plan to upgrade the A5 from Londonderry to Aughnacloy. The move was prompted by the Irish government's decision to shelve funding commitments to the A5 scheme.
Consortium Lagan, Ferrovial and Costain is expected to finish the work within two and a half years.
Mr Kennedy said: "I welcome the benefits to road users with the provision of a new all purpose dual carriageway. This will help reduce journey times, improve road safety along the A8, and help the development of the port of Larne, which is the second largest port in Northern Ireland.
"As part of the Trans European Network, the A8 is a strategically significant Euro route, which provides an important East-West link, between Northern Ireland and Scotland, via the port of Larne.
"In the current economic climate, the commencement of this dual carriageway, along the Eastern Seaboard Key Transport Corridor, will be welcome news for the construction industry and when completed, contribute to the overall economic development of Northern Ireland."