A North Antrim MLA has challenged the Infrastructure Minister to release funds to extend the A26 dualling project as far as Ballymoney.
Ulster Unionist MLA Robin Swann called on Sinn Fein Minister Chris Hazzard to “find the necessary funds to extend the A26 upgrade to Ballymoney, thereby improving the constituency’s gateway to the North-West of the Province”.
Mr Swann added that he was “bitterly disappointed that the continuation of the much-needed A26 upgrade is not at present a Department proposal”.
He stressed that for North Antrim to reap the full economic benefits of this gateway to the North West, the A26 upgrade “required equally much-needed dualling from Drones Road to Ballymoney town itself”.
Mr Swann’s challenge to the Sinn Fein Minister came after he received a response to a written question to the Minister.
Responding to Assemblyman Swann, Minister Hazzard said: “My Department is currently progressing a balanced programme of strategic road improvement (SRI) schemes across the north.
“ This programme emanates from a number of strategic policy documents, including the Investment Strategy, the Regional Development Strategy, the Regional Transportation Strategy and the Regional Strategic Transport Network Transport Plan.
“At present, the SRI programme does not contain a proposal to continue the dualling of the A26 between Glarryford and A44 Drones Road to Ballymoney.
“The New Approach to Regional Transportation sets out a high-level framework to guide future investment decisions. In line with that, my Department is progressing the development of new Transport Plans which will set out a long-term programme of investment.
“This will provide an opportunity to consider schemes, such as the dualling of the A26 from Drones Road to Ballymoney, for inclusion in the programme.
“It is expected that, when complete in summer 2017, the current 8km scheme between Glarryford and A44 Drones Road will greatly improve road safety and journey times on the A26 route between Ballymena and Ballymoney.”