SDLP East Derry MLA and member of the Northern Ireland Regional Development committee John Dallat has commented on the announcement that the long awaited A6 upgrade will begin this year.
He said, “This has been a long time coming and while of course the announcement of all crucially needed infrastructure upgrades are to be welcomed, it would be irresponsible to do so without sounding a note of caution.
“In the Budget money was indeed set aside for seven flagship projects, this being one, but only £100,000 and only in year one. The money for years two to five was projected – there is no evidence of where it will come from. It’s estimated it’ll cost between £120m and £140m for complete the A6 project alone. Prior to the 2011 Assembly elections billboards were erected by others who claimed the money for the A5 and the A6 had been secured. People in Derry and the north west have waited too long for this road to be upgraded – they should not be sold a pup now in the mouth of another election.
“It is also worth questioning the reasoning behind starting the work in Randalstown when you could argue more would benefit from an improved road at the other end of the route. It’s being billed as great news for the north west but this plan means work will start closer to Belfast than Derry.
“In addition, this new announcement will provide little comfort for places such as Dungiven who in the absence of a critical bypass are faced with living in one of the most polluted towns in Ireland, through no fault of their own. The money announced today is but a small part of mammoth task to be undertaken and delivered on in the coming years.
“Since Partition, through the Troubles and even today the North West has endured lack of investment and as such this cannot be a humble donation to repairing the long term damage that has been caused. I would hope the Minister has recognised that transport infrastructure deficit in the North West represents a serious legacy issue.
The future prosperity of Derry is inherently linked to the completion of the A6 and I would hope to see it finished in my lifetime.”