DUP upbeat on future of York Street Interchange
The DUP has said it remains confident that a multi-million-pound road upgrade in Belfast can go ahead despite questions over its future funding.
A new construction contract has been advertised for the long-delayed York Street Interchange, which aims to ease congestion at the notoriously busy bottleneck between the Westlink, M2 and M3.
Contractors had been appointed by the Department for Infrastructure in 2017, but this was later quashed by a legal challenge. A new tender is due to open in June 2020, with construction due to start in 2022.
The cost has been estimated as being between £100m to £120m, less than previous estimates of £130m to £165m.
The project is supposed to be funded from part of the £1bn secured by the DUP as part of an electoral pact with the Conservatives.
A DfI spokesperson said this money was provided to the department for the normal capital budget for two years only, 2018-19 and 2019-20.
Any decision to move to the construction phase will also require ministerial approval.
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A DUP spokesperson said: "DUP MPs used their influence at Westminster to deliver £1bn extra for Northern Ireland.
"Within that was £200m for our infrastructure including projects such as the York Street Interchange.
"This money has been delivered to the department."
They added: "It is important the department are able to progress these key infrastructure projects in an appropriate timeframe so that we can increase investment and create more jobs."
Former Infrastructure Minister Chris Hazzard has previously voiced his support for the upgrade to continue.
In 2016 he accepted a recommendation from a public inquiry that the York Street Interchange scheme should progress in principle.
At the time he added that Brexit had also placed a question mark over funding.
Sinn Fein were also asked for a response on the current progress of the project yesterday.