There have been further delays in the proposed upgrade of the A1 following the Department’s for Infrastructure’s decision to hold a public inquiry.
The Department has concluded that holding a public inquiry is the most efficient way to progress the scheme as they have been unable to resolve objections from landowners, stakeholders or members of the public who have lodged objections.
Sinn Féin MLA John O’Dowd has expressed his disappointment at the news.
“The tragic history of deaths and injuries on the A1 means road improvements are essential,” said Mr O’Dowd.
“The scheme proposed by Transport NI was a comprehensive approach to remedying the danger points on the road.
“It is regrettable that the small number of objections received could not be resolved in an informal manner and there will now be a public inquiry in March 2020.
“I hope the inquiry does not cause significant delay to the work required on the A1 to make it safe for all users.”
Alliance councillor for Banbridge, Brian Pope, also expressed his concern on yet “another delay”.
Councillor Pope said: “The Department’s decision to hold a Public Inquiry is not unexpected, but unfortunately will do nothing to allay people’s fears on the safety of this road.
“We have previously met with the Department and expressed our concern on the recorded history of fatal and serious collisions on the A1. It is therefore disappointing that the Department have been unable to resolve a sufficient number of objections raised by landowners, stakeholders or members of the public.
“The inquiry is expected to be held in March 2020 which will result in a further delay to the commencement of works.
“The Stage 3 Scheme Assessment Report, just published on the DFI website, concludes that this project will contribute positively to road safety. Therefore, we continue to urge the Department to expedite these processes as quickly as possible to bring these essential upgrade works to site.”
The A1 Improvement Works comprise the closure of the gaps in the central reservation, providing a continuous safety barrier along the length of the works, and the construction of new grade separated junctions.