Concerns raised about the continuing delays in the opening of the A6 upgrade and Dungiven bypass
CONCERNS have been raised about the continuing delays in the opening of the long-awaited A6 upgrade and Dungiven bypass amid reports it could be July before it is finally completed.
It comes after DUP assembly member Gregory Campbell claimed he was told by Department for Infrastructure officials that the new route between Derry and Dungiven, in a worst case scenario, would open in July.
The road project, which began in 2018, is seen as being of strategic economic importance and will improve travelling time between Belfast and Derry.
It includes around a 30km stretch between Derry and Dungiven, incorporating a new by-pass around the town, which is a notorious bottleneck. It was due to open last autumn, but the project has been dogged by delays.
Mr Campbell has criticised the lack of progress amid fears it could be July before it opens.
"We're now virtually in the spring of '23 and they're still not giving a final deadline," he told the BBC.
Sinn Féin MLA Caoimhe Archibald also said drivers are increasingly frustrated at the delay in opening the long-awaited upgrade.
"Commuters in Dungiven and the north west are becoming increasingly frustrated at delays in the completion of the A6 and Dungiven bypass," she said.
"Long delays have become the norm in and around Dungiven while a brand new road remains unopened.
"I have written to the Department for Infrastructure to seek clarity over the completion date and how delays are being addressed.
"Party colleagues and I will meet senior officials in the department over the next short while and will emphasise the need for better communication with the community and road users.
"Sinn Féin will continue to work to ensure this essential link for the wider north west area will be completed as quickly as possible."
However, a DfI spokeswoman said the "current programme indicates the road could open at the end of April".
"The department completely understands the frustration of all those impacted by the ongoing works on the A6 including the travelling public, local businesses and people living in the area," she said.
"We know they have waited a long time for the A6 upgrade to be delivered and understandably want to know when it will open.
"The scheme is well advanced and mainline construction work is now largely complete with the exception of a proportion of road signs and street lighting connections.
"We have recently commenced the road safety audit process, which must be completed before the road can be opened.
"Subject to any unforeseen circumstances, the current programme indicates the road could open at the end of April."