A26: Check out our drone gallery of huge road upgrade project
This is the astonishing bird’s-eye view of the ongoing £55million project to upgrade the main road to the North Coast.
The aerial pictures — captured by a drone — show the vast scale of the work on the A26 between Ballymena and Ballymoney.
The route, which is used by almost 20,000 people every day, had become a notorious bottleneck for commuters, but almost one million tonnes of earth have already been moved to build an extra eight kilometres of dual carriageway.
A section of the River Clough has been redirected and a new roundabout will be built at the A44 Drones Road junction, as well as a number of flyover junctions along the route.
The new road is being constructed close to the original A26, meaning the scheme has been developed with local landmarks and existing businesses in mind.
The famous Frosses Trees section of the A26, close to Cloughmills, will not be affected and an alternative entrance has been created for customers of Logan’s Fashions.
However, pictures of the construction works reveal the well-known premises have been dwarfed by the size of the project that is under way in its shadow.
William Diver, contract manager for BAM/McCann, the firm carrying out the scheme, said the project is on track for its completion date.
He said: “Particularly inclement weather over the last six months has had an impact on the works, but we have still managed to make good progress, with approximately 800,000 tonnes of earth being moved to date and currently there are six bridge structures under construction along the scheme.
“The next nine months are going to be an intensive period on the project. We will see the completion of bulk earthworks, completion of all bridge structures, installation of drainage and utility pipework, road pavement works and finishing works, such as safety barrier, street lighting and signage.
“There will also be a number of major traffic management switches during the course of this year, with traffic being moved on to sections of the new carriageway to allow the existing road to be removed and new carriageway constructed.”
Transport minister Michelle McIlveen has hailed the progress made by the project, which marks a significant investment by the Northern Ireland Executive in the roads infrastructure.
She said: “Once completed this scheme will help improve road safety, reduce congestion and improve journey times.
“I have been really impressed by the sheer scale of this project and how it has been managed on the ground. Good progress is being made and it is on schedule to be completed in summer 2017.”