Infrastructure Minister gives green light to £75M safety upgrade to the A1
Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon today announced that the A1 Junctions Phase 2 road improvement scheme will progress.
The Minister has carefully considered and accepted the outcome of the Public Inquiry and has confirmed progression of the scheme in readiness of funding becoming available.
Making the announcement in a statement to the Assembly today, Minister Mallon said:
“I am delighted to announce this key step in the development of the A1 Junctions Phase 2 scheme, which aims to address safety issues along a 25km stretch of the A1 between Hillsborough and Loughbrickland. I am very aware of how important the A1 improvements are for the many people who have expressed their support for the scheme, especially to all those who have lost loved ones.
"Progressing a scheme of this scale represents significant investment in this strategic road which links Belfast and Dublin and carries around 40,000 vehicles per day.
"The provision of the upgrade will greatly improve road safety for all of these motorists as well as providing more reliable journey times for the thousands of travellers using the route daily.
"My announcement to proceed with the scheme also delivers on promises made to our citizens in the New Decade, New Approach agreement, to improve connectivity and safety on this strategically important transport corridor for our island, helping to improve the lives of all our citizens.”
A Public Inquiry was held in March 2020 into the proposed scheme and the Inspector reported his findings to the Department in October 2020. Following an examination of the issues raised, the Minister has accepted the Inspector’s recommendations and has confirmed the scheme should progress, subject to completing all of the necessary statutory processes and securing the necessary funding. The Department will now publish the formal “Environmental Impact Assessment: Notice to Proceed” and will make the Direction Order and the Stopping Up (of Private Accesses) Order for the scheme. Consultation will continue with key stakeholders particularly landowners affected by the scheme proposals to minimise any related impacts.
The Inspector appointed to the Inquiry concluded that:
“Over the past 40 years upgrades to the road have been carried out not just with the intention of improving travel comfort and journey times, but with the most important objective of making the road as safe as possible for all users. The A1 Junctions Phase 2 Road Improvement Scheme includes the latest proposals to achieve this objective.I recommend to the Department, therefore, to expedite the proposals detailed in the scheme documents as quickly as possible.”
The Department will now publish the formal Notice of its Intention to Proceed and make the Direction Order and the Stopping Up (of Private Accesses) Order for the scheme. The associated Vesting Order will remain in draft until finance becomes available to build the road.
The Departmental Statement, Inspector’s Report and associated documents are available here: https://www.infrastructure-ni.gov.uk/publications/a1-junctions-phase-2-notice-intention-proceed-documents
The scheme is expected to cost in the region of £65-75 million.
The Direction Order designates that length of new and upgraded road that will become trunk road.