The announcement of £160m funding for improvements to the A6 between L’Derry and Belfast will have huge economic and safety benefits for businesses and local residents, says the Freight Transport Association (FTA).
Infrastructure Minister Chris Hazzard announced his decision to proceed with the dualling of a 14.7km stretch of the road from Randalstown to Castledawson. Ground investigation is already underway and work is expected to start in October.
Seamus Leheny, Policy Manager for FTA in Northern Ireland, said: “FTA has lobbied for improvements to this route for a long time so we are delighted that the first stage of the upgrade between Randalstown & Castledawson will soon get underway. The A6 has been a constant source of frustration to our members in Northern Ireland due to the long delays many of them suffer when transporting goods on this road.
“An improved and more efficient A6 will not only reduce costs but will open up the north west region for investment, as the ability to get goods to market efficiently and cheaply is a key criterion in attracting such investment and growth.”
The improvements will also bring road safety benefits as most of the current A6 is single-carriageway, with HGVs over 7.5 tonnes restricted to a maximum speed of 40mph while cars are restricted to a maximum 60mph. This not only leads to long tailbacks but dangerous overtaking manoeuvres by some car drivers. The new dual carriageway will enable safer overtaking opportunities while goods vehicles can travel at a more efficient speed.
“We will continue to lobby for further improvements to the A6, with particular emphasis on bringing forward plans for the development of a dual carriageway by-pass of Dungiven which already suffers from heavy traffic and vehicle pollution,” he said.