Sinn Féin Councillor Tony Hassan has warned investment at Fort George and a chain of industrial and business parks stretching from the river to the border is being hamstrung by a lack of progress on the £60m Buncrana Road improvement project.
Colr. Hassan said the economic and social regeneration of the entire Strand, Pennyburn, Templemore and Coshquin areas was being held back by the glacial pace of the road widening scheme, which first went out to public consultation a decade ago.
He made the comments after members of Derry City and Strabane District Council’s Economic and Regeneration Committee were advised the preferred route for the improved road, which will be widened to four lanes if it proceeds, is being reviewed.
The preferred route was originally announced in 2009.
Conor Loughrey, TransportNI’s Western Divisional Roads Manager, indicated that, eight years later, it’s back on the table and that he’s hopeful orders may be published in late 2018 or early 2019 depending on central government funding priorities.
Colr. Hassan said: “Eight years on and we’re still taking about the Buncrana Road. Clearly, what’s needed there is four lanes of traffic.
“The whole regeneration of that area will not progress until then.
“Investors will not invest, you’ve seen issues at Arntz, and it’s also affected investment at Fort George.
“People are not going to invest until you have four lanes of traffic.”
The Ballyarnett councillor said the development would make the Pennyburn, Springtown and Elagh industrial and business parks more attractive to investors while also future-proofing local roads infrastructure against the eventual influx of people to the massive H2 housing zone.
“It’s a disgrace we as elected representatives have allowed this to happen,” said Colr. Hassan, lamenting the long delay in progressing the road scheme.