Kennedy welcomes progress on £26m roads investment

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ROADS Service has outlined its progress on a range of improvement and maintenance schemes totalling £26.2m in the Larne area this year.

Principal engineer Colin Hutchinson met local elected representatives in Smiley Buildings recently to highlight a number of planned or ongoing roads schemes in the borough.

Part of these works involve a significant carriageway resurfacing programme, with schemes recently completed at locations including Bridge End Road, Braepark Road and Tower Road at Garron Point. More than 20km of surface dressing has also been completed in areas such as Ferris Bay Road, Hillhead Road, Crosshill Road and Gobbins Road.

Mr Hutchinson also referred to a number of traffic schemes that are currently planned, including a footway link at Redlands Roundabout, improvements to existing pedestrian facilities at Circular Road roundabout and rural roads, and signing currently being designed for the National Cycle Network Route 93 running from Carrickfergus through Gleno to Millbrook.

Regional Development Minister Danny Kennedy said: “The autumn round of council meetings is a timely opportunity for local authorities to discuss potential schemes and priorities for incoming and future years.

“The priorities and constraints placed on funding levels by Budget 2010 means the programme of local transport and safety measures in 2012/13 and 2013/14 is under considerable pressure. However, Northern Division will continue to use its available resources to develop a programme for the Larne Council area with a view to bringing forward schemes as funding becomes available.

“While indications were that funding for resurfacing works would be very limited this year, a successful bid by my Department has improved this position considerably. I remain committed to delivering these important schemes and will continue to submit strong bids for additional funding.

Mr Kennedy highlighted the recent commencement of the A8 Belfast to Larne dual carriageway scheme and described it as being of “significant importance” to the economic development of Northern Ireland.

He added: “Last month, I cut the official sod for this £100m infrastructure project. The scheme seeks to improve journey times for this stretch of the A8 and will help remove the issues associated with platooning of traffic, thus reducing driver frustration and improving the safety performance of the route for all road users.

“Investment in roads infrastructure is an essential component in creating jobs and future prosperity. In the short term, it provides much needed jobs in the construction sector, and in the longer term, particularly in the case of strategic road improvements, it facilitates the economic growth which is key to our future competitiveness.

“Therefore by upgrading the A8 to dual carriageway will help grow the local economy and contribute to the wider economic development in Northern Ireland, both in the short term and in the long term. It will also help with the development of the Port of Larne, which is the second largest Port in Northern Ireland.”

It is estimated that 55,000 tonnes of concrete, 1,300 tonnes of steel reinforcement, 310,000 tonnes of bituminous material, will be used for the scheme which will lead to an increase in demand for local suppliers of construction material.

Work is currently on-going on this long-awaited scheme by the Joint Venture of Lagan, Ferrovial, Costain and is expected to be completed in spring 2015.

Mr Kennedy acknowledged the affect that the project has had on certain landowners, and accepted that in some cases this impact has been “significant” in terms of land loss.

“I would like to thank these landowners for their co-operation to date and in anticipation of their continued co-operation throughout the construction period,” the Minister concluded.