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Progress demand: Formal request for link roads delivery date made at Stormont

Stormont’s Infrastructure Committee has been asked to give definitive dates for the delivery of Armagh’s long-awaited link roads.

It comes as the ‘new term’ kicks in and the committee is meeting to plans its year ahead.

The request has been lodged by Newry and Armagh SDLP MLA Justin McNulty, who said he wished to see progress “as a matter of urgency”.

It comes after Armagh I revealed in May that both projects – which have been in the pipeline for years – have collectively cost taxpayers a whopping £3,286,000, despite not an inch of tarmac being laid.

The north and west link road was originally to run a 6.9km route from the A3 Portadown Road to cut across Loughgall Road, around the outskirts of the city and emerge on the Monaghan Road, at a cost of between £55m and £75m depending on exact route.

The east link connects the A3 Portadown Road with the A28 Markethill Road, forming a junction with the A51 Hamiltonsbawn Road. Much of the infrastructure is already in place and it would cost between £12m and £20m to complete.

A review of the preferred corridor – which suggests the link emerging further along the road in the area of Edenaveys – is still ongoing, and an announcement is understood to be imminent.

Mr McNulty said local people were frustrated by the lack of progress and wanted answers.

He told Armagh I: “Over the last two mandates of the Assembly we had two MLAs from this constituency as Roads Minister. There had been hope that progress would have been made during their time in office but nothing happened.

“The Armagh east and west link roads are key to the economic future of Armagh City and indeed the wider area.

“Businesses want to invest in areas where the infrastructure is accessible. The reality is, try getting into Armagh any morning between 8am and 9.30am – or again in the afternoon – and the city’s approach roads are gridlocked.

“I have asked that the Infrastructure Committee bring senior officials from the department before the committee and explain what progress, if any, has been made on these projects, if a final route has been identified and a timescale for delivery.

“These projects are key to the economic and social future of Armagh. We cannot allow any further delay.”

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