NORTH Antrim Sinn Féin MLA Daithí McKay has welcomed the launching of a public consultation on the dualling scheme for the A26 Glarryford to A44 Drones Road.
An exhibition of the proposals will be shown at the Tullyglass Hotel, 178 Galgorm Road, Ballymena, on Tuesday March 27 and Wednesday March 28 between 2pm and 9pm.
Mr McKay said: “This project will be key in improving road safety along this stretch of the A26, to reduce traffic congestion at peak times and to reduce average journey times. Roads Service also recognises that there are lengths of poor alignment on the road and a high number of side roads and agricultural accesses.
“More critically there is a lack of safe overtaking opportunities and this results in vehicles regularly becoming caught behind slower moving vehicles
“The proposed scheme would create 7.7km of high speed dual 2-lane carriageway with a speed limit of 70mph Its improvement to dual carriageway standard is required not only to improve journey time but also to prevent this section of the route reaching its absolute capacity by 2017.
“I have called on the DRD Minister to prioritise this work given the fact that it is a black spot in terms of fatal accidents in recent years and also because of the economic benefits that it would provide. This is I would argue the worst stretch of road between Belfast and the north coast, even between Dublin and the north coast most of which is dualled. If we are to bring more tourists to the north coast then we have to improve this key piece of infrastructure to reduce journey times to east coast airports in Belast and Dublin and to increase safety.
“I asked the Minister at the Assembly to lay out the times that would be saved by commuters using the road once these works are finally completed. He has indicated to me that those travelling southbound in the morning at peak times would save approximately 3minute 16 seconds and those travelling northbound in the evening would save 4 minutes 31 seconds. So for example, for someone travelling from Ballycastle to Belfast and back again that works regular hours 5 days a week that would save them 7 minutes 47 seconds a day or 38 minutes 55 seconds each week. That is a significant saving that will benefit commuters, tourists and hauliers alike.
“It is important that the public make their views known on this scheme but it is also important that we aim to have this work prioritised and carried out in this Assembly term as it is long overdue and the bottlenecks here are only worsening. The Minister must bring this work forward as a priority.”