Construction work on A6 upgrade plan is set to begin
The dualling of the A6 between Belfast and Londonderry will bring huge benefits, it has been claimed.
Stephen Kelly, the chief executive of Manufacturing NI, welcomed news that the first section of the £160m scheme from Randalstown to Toome and from Moyola to Castledawson Roundabout will get under way within the next few weeks.
This section includes the notorious bottleneck at Moneynick where motorists face lengthy delays during peak times.
Only minor work will take place along a contested section of the route near the home of Seamus Heaney, which is set to face a further legal challenge.
Mr Kelly said: "The amount of time wasted to industry from vehicles and daily commuters like myself sitting in traffic jams is immeasurable.
"I am delighted work will now press ahead and l am looking forward to 2019 when journey times between Derry and Belfast will be greatly reduced and a lot less tense."
The Department for Infrastructure's scheme is expected to be substantially complete in early 2021, with the Randalstown to Toome section open to traffic as soon as 2019.
The A6 is a key transport corridor, strengthening the links between Belfast, Derry and the wider North West.
Chief Executive of Londonderry Chamber of Trade, Sinead McLaughlin said: "The road between Derry and Belfast is one of the most strategically important routes anywhere in Northern Ireland and it should have been upgraded many years ago."