£30m boost for Mid and East Antrim roads

The upgraded A8 Larne-Belfast road.  INLT 41-657-CON
The upgraded A8 Larne-Belfast road. INLT 41-657-CON

An investment of £30m in Mid and East Antrim roads over the past year is bringing real benefits for local communities, it has been claimed.

Confirming the investment on road schemes in the area during the 2015-2016 financial year, Infrastructure Minister Chris Hazzard said improving transport connections along key routes while maintaining a network which is fit for purpose for all users was a priority for the Executive.

The Sinn Fein man added: “Investment of more than £30m in Mid and East Antrim over the past year is making a real difference for local communities, improving road safety and reducing journey times for local people, as well ensuring the road network is maintained for the future.

“The final stage of a £133m scheme to dual 14.4kilometres of the A8 Belfast to Larne road opened in December and drivers are now enjoying reduced journey times.

“The recent announcement from the Finance Minster of an additional £28million for my Department is a welcome boost and while it is necessary to prioritise activity, a significant part of this will be used to improve rural roads and roads maintenance.”

At Mid and East Antrim Council’s latest operational committee meeting, TransportNI Northern Division’s Network Development Manager, Alan Keys highlighted a number of other improvement and maintenance schemes completed during 2015-2016.

These included £1.2million worth of investment in approximately 10 kilometres of carriageway resurfacing, including the A2 Larne Road, as well as a new footway link over the railway bridge at Ballycarry Halt.

He also clarified the current position in relation to grass cutting services saying: “To ensure public safety is not compromised, sightlines will be cut as required throughout the season.

“Currently, all roadside verges and sightline grass will be cut at least once in the period April-October.

“Many councils cut urban grass areas last year and I would welcome any further commitment to continue with this practice.

“Regrettably, the Department will not be able to fund Councils to cut grass for amenity purposes this year,” Mr Keys concluded.