Wednesday 13 December 2017

€88m spent but A5 to Derry remains stuck in slow lane

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Photo: Collins
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Photo: Collins

Adrian Rutherford

Almost £80m (€88m) has been spent on Northern Ireland's biggest road scheme from the Border to Derry - despite the project being stalled for a decade.

The A5 Western Transport Corridor was given the go-ahead by the Northern Ireland Executive in 2007. It would see the A5 upgraded to a dual carriageway from the Border, near Aughnacloy in Co Tyrone, via Omagh and Strabane to Derry.

The 90km dual carriageway was estimated to cost between £650m and £850m and could lessen journey times by up to 20 minutes.

But for 10 years it has been in limbo amid legal wrangles and funding issues - and throughout that time the bill has continued to spiral.

The expenditure by the North's Department for Infrastructure since November 2007 totals £77,002,796. That is equivalent to more than £22,000 a day. More than £20m has been spent since April 2013, when a High Court ruling slammed the brakes on the scheme.

Revised plans were put forward and the first phase of the scheme could get under way later this year.

Yet the final completion date will now be years after the original 2015 deadline - and well over the £800m initial budget.

The Northern Ireland Executive agreed to proceed with the A5 project in July 2007. A preferred route was announced in 2009. However, the project - the single largest road scheme ever undertaken in Northern Ireland - has been dogged by a series of setbacks.

Around £400m (€442m) was due to come from the Irish Government, but in 2011 most of this funding was withdrawn.

Three months later, it was announced that the project would be broken up and built in phases. Then in April 2013 a High Court judge quashed a decision to proceed with the scheme. At this stage, some £56.4m had already been spent.

A fresh legal challenge was attempted last August, but was thrown out in November.

During his visit to Northern Ireland last week, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said Dublin remained committed to part-funding the road.

The current £77m bill includes £46,952,685 on consultants, £20m on contractors, £3.9m on ground investigation, £1.049m on "services" and £2.7m on land-related costs including compensation.

Irish Independent

Promoted Links

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Promoted Links

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News