A five-year review into the preferred route of the long-awaited Armagh east link road has been completed with one conclusion – there should be no change whatsoever!
The route is exactly the same as that published in 2014 but then subsequently re-examined.
The road – to link Markethill Road and Portadown Road – will use much of a route which is already in place.
The Department for Infrastructure recently completed a comprehensive review of the route that was first announced in June 2014.
It now says that on the basis of updated environmental, economic and engineering assessments, the review has concluded that the route announced in 2014 “remains the preferred route”.
This preferred route encompasses a new link road on the east side of the city of Armagh.
This connects the Portadown Road and the Markethill Road with the objective of improving road safety and relieving congestion in Armagh city centre.
The proposed scheme also includes a three metre wide shared use footway/cycleway which will help to make sustainable travel options more accessible for the local community.
The route runs from the junction of Markethill Road and Ardmore Road, extending northwards to a proposed junction with Portadown Road to the city side of Linsey’s Heights.
The road utilises the existing Ardmore Road, the existing road through Hamiltonsbawn Road Industrial Estate and a small part of the Linsey’s Heights Road.
The Department says it will engage with Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council to ensure that the route of the scheme is considered in the development of the Local Development Plan, being taken forward by the council.
Confirmation of the preferred route will allow the next stages of preparatory work to advance when the necessary resources are available to be allocated to this project.
Any decision to commence this scheme will need to be taken by an incoming Infrastructure Minister, taking account of the wider priorities of a returning Executive and available funding.
If in the future the Armagh east link road is prioritised, the next stage of development would include the production and assessment of a specimen design, the preparation and publication of draft Orders and an Environmental Impact Assessment report.
Statutory procedures would then follow including publication of Notices of Intention to make a Direction Order and a Vesting Order.
During these development stages there will be further consultation to allow the public to comment on the proposals.
A public enquiry may also be required.
A recent paper to ABC Council saw the route included on a schedule which it was hoped for completion by 2035.