The Permanent Secretary at the Department for Infrastructure, Peter May, has confirmed lands for the Newbuildings to Strabane section of the A5 road scheme will be vested later this year in the absence of any further legal challenges to the project.
Mr. May's office wrote to Sinn Féin MLA Michaela Boyle on Thursday to signal construction of phase 1a of the massive road project would also get under way this year, barring litigation.
Ms. Boyle's colleague, Sinn Féin Foyle MLA Karen Mullan, welcomed the development.
She said: “I very much welcome this renewed confirmation of A5 construction timeline in response to an update we requested from the Department of Infrastructure.
“Departmental officials confirmed they are continuing to ‘expedite delivery of this strategically important project’ and expect to complete the vesting of land and begin construction on the Newbuildings to Strabane section of the road before the end of the calendar year.
“This is clearly in line with the explicit instructions of then Minister Chris Hazzard before leaving post and the A5’s status as a flagship executive project for which £229 million has been committed.
“Of course there is always the potential for legal challenges in projects of this scale but I believe if any such challenge was to materialise at this stage, it would represent a gross attempt to subvert the will and interests of people of this region.
“The development of the A5 dual carriageway is vital to redressing the infrastructure deficit in this part of the world and to reducing travel times and transport costs to make this region more economically competitive. It is also vital to improve road safety along the entire route given the many lives that have been sadly lost because the of inadequacy of the single carriageway.”