Northern Ireland news

Upgrade of `most dangerous road in Ireland' - the A5 - to have `heavy machinery on ground by autumn 2019'

SDLP assembly member Daniel McCrossan said he was assured by `top civil servants from the Department of Infrastructure'that the long delayed project will finally get underway in 2019

CONSTRUCTION to upgrade "the most dangerous road in Ireland" - the A5 Western Transport Corridor - will have "heavy machinery on the ground" next autumn.

SDLP assembly member Daniel McCrossan said he was assured by "top civil servants from the Department of Infrastructure" yesterday that the long delayed project will finally get underway in 2019.

Nearly 40 lives have been lost on it in 12 years and the department's own assessement of the scene predicted that when complete, it could prevent more than 2,000 crashes, 2,750 casualties and 19 fatalities over 60 years.

The £150 million project has been held up by a legal challenge from the Alternative A5 Alliance, which claims the scheme cannot be approved without a minister, as well as previously raising environmental concerns.

However, it is understood that secretary of state Karen Bradley's Executive Formation and Exercise of Functions Bill which "clarifies that a senior officer of a Northern Ireland department is not prevented from exercising functions of the department during the period for forming an Executive where it is in the public interest to do so", will now see the project go ahead.

"The department has informed me they fully plan to be in the construction phase of the A5 scheme by Autumn 2019 - following statutory procedures and necessary archaeological investigation," Mr McCrossan said.

"I fully welcome this, their time frame and their confirmation that the A5 is the department's number one prioritised flagship project.

"The department have also fully committed funding for the A5 which remains ring-fenced. This is positive news for the people of the west and north west of this province.

"The department are confident in defeating the judicial review case brought by the Alternative A5 Alliance (AA5A).

"I am also confident that the lives saved by the new road, the investment and connectivity will ensure the scheme goes ahead. The detractors have caused enough damage and have held back my constituency for far too long."

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