Department insists A1 public inquiry will begin in March
The Department of Infrastructure has said it is doing "everything" to advance works aimed at improving the A1 - a road that has claimed the lives of 60 people since 1998.
A collision on the southbound carriageway claimed the life of a 75-year-old woman on Sunday.
The pensioner died following a single vehicle crash between Banbridge and Dromore shortly before 12.45pm. And last night, the southbound lanes of the A1 Dublin Road were closed following a two vehicle collision at the Moss Road junction.
The Department for Infrastructure (DfI) is to hold a public inquiry into proposals to carry out upgrade works to the controversial dual carriageway.
The inquiry is scheduled to begin next March, after numerous objections were received.
A DfI spokesman last night extended his sincere sympathies to the victim's family. "We will be working closely with the PSNI to assist them with their investigation into this recent fatal collision," he said.
"We recognise just how important this work on the A1 is. We want to deliver the A1 Junctions Phase 2 Road Improvement Scheme and we are doing everything we can to progress it.
"We are currently preparing for the public inquiry which will be held in March 2020. This followed a consultation on the draft Statutory Orders and Environmental Impact Assessment Report."
He said the consultation exercises "offered an opportunity for the public and other stakeholders to engage with the department and members of the project team on the scheme design and development process".
"There were over 100 responses received and amongst these were a number of objections from landowners, stakeholders and the general public," he said.
"While we tried to resolve these issues, we had to conclude that a public inquiry was needed to get us to the next stage due to the nature of the issues raised."
He added: "We know how important this scheme is. We can reassure everyone that we will be ready to respond and move quickly to the next stage."
Sunday's fatal crash on the A1 dual carriageway brought to 47 the number of people who have died on Northern Ireland's roads this year to date.