Belfast Telegraph

Firm lands £60m road deal

Construction company to widen and dual part of the A2

By MArgaret Canning

A Co Down construction firm is about to start work on a £60m road widening and dual carriageway scheme in Co Antrim.

The Department for Regional Development confirmed Graham Construction as contractors for the A2 Shore Road Greenisland improvement scheme.

Work will start in March and is expected to take two years.

Regional Development Minister Danny Kennedy said: "The award of the contract is a significant step forward allowing construction to begin in just a few weeks on the A2 between Carrickfergus and Whiteabbey, a strategic link in our road network.

"The improvement that a dual carriageway between Jordanstown and Seapark will bring has attracted strong support from residents and traders in both Carrickfergus and Newtownabbey, and from those who travel the route."

Graham Construction Managing Director Alan Bill said the firm was "delighted" to have won the contract.

He said: "Not only will it be of great benefit once completed for the people who regularly travel the A2, but it will go some way to securing jobs in what is one of the most challenging times the construction industry in Northern Ireland has faced. We are pleased to be delivering this strategic link and look forward to commencing on site shortly."

Adrian Eakin, a partner in infrastructure at the Belfast office on Pinsent Masons Solicitors, said: "It's good news for Northern Ireland's construction industry and will help secure a number of badly needed jobs."

But he said contractors needed a pipeline of upcoming schemes.

"The problem for the contractors is the ad hoc nature of infrastructure procurement in Northern Ireland - there is no centrally driven pipeline of schemes to allow the industry to plan for the future.

"You only need to look at how Scotland has approached major projects in recent years. It now has one of the biggest pipelines in Europe and it's not afraid to use innovative ways to raise capital to get things moving.

"If Northern Ireland has to wait until the Executive has enough capital, it won't be building much new infrastructure."