Belfast Telegraph

Minister expresses doubts over £850m Derry to Dublin road upgrade

By Brendan McDaid

Transport Minister Danny Kennedy has cast doubt on the £850m funding needed for the Derry to Dublin dual carriageway — despite the Irish government confirming its financial commitment.

Anxious Derry City Council officials recently wrote to the Ulster Unionist minister calling for him to confirm his department is willing to proceed with the A5 Western Transport Corridor project.

The previous transport minister, Conor Murphy, had committed to funding the project from Derry to Aughnacloy, with the Irish government stumping up £350m for the biggest roads project on the island of Ireland.

Despite its economic woes, the Irish government re-affirmed its commitment earlier this year to upgrade the road as far as the border. The issue was included in documents listed under ‘matters for information’ at Derry City Council’s regional services committee meeting yesterday.

In June this year Derry City Council unanimously adopted a motion at their monthly meeting stating: “This council welcomes the confirmation of a commitment by the Dublin government to contribute £350m to the construction costs of the A5 Western Transport Corridor.

“We urgently require the new Minister for Regional Development to also confirm his department's commitment to fund, and complete, this project as previously scheduled.”

In a reply signed by Mr Kennedy and dated July 28 he confirmed the Irish government was committed to the A5 project.

“However both governments

agreed to consider opportunities to reduce costs in the current economic climate,” he said.

“You may also be aware that the A5 public inquiry ended on July 1, 2011. In conjunction with the independent inspector’s report, which is expected in the autumn, I intend to consider proposed investment levels across my department, including the impact of budget 2010.

“I have received numerous requests for improvements to the strategic road network, including the A6 Belfast to Londonderry, the A26 at Frosses, the A2 at Greenisland and a range of other schemes.

“I will continue to take account of these requests before forming a view on the way forward.”

Background

The A5 Western Transport Corridor is the largest proposed single roads project in Ireland.

It has been estimated that it will cost between £650m and £850m.

But doubts over its viability in the current economic climate have surfaced on a number of occasions as the authorities north and south of the border face up to budget cuts.

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