Map reveals layout of new A6 Castledawson to Randalstown dual carriageway

The A6 is one of the busiest roads in Northern Ireland

The A6 is one of the busiest roads in Northern Ireland

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The first sod will be cut on the new A6 dual carriage between Castledawson and Randalstown by the end of the summer according to TransportNI.

Contractors for the much anticipated road scheme were first announced by Ulster Unionist Roads Minister Danny Kennedy in May last year.

The Toome to Randalstown section of the new A6

The Toome to Randalstown section of the new A6

But the “package of funding for the project” was not approved by the Northern Ireland Executive until last month, when DUP Minister Michelle McIlveen had stepped into the role.

She announced on January 10 that work is due to start on the Moneynick section of the £130m project later this year, and that the scheme would be carried out in two parts.

The first section will cover the 7.3km stretch from Randalstown to the Toome bypass followed by the 6.7km section from Toome to the Castledawson roundabout - where it will meet the new Magherafelt bypass.

On site for around four months now, the project’s manager, Andrew Hitchenor from Department of Regional Development and TransportNI, said the new road will make a positive impact on traffic congestion between Magherafelt and Belfast.

Map of the new A6 from Toome to Castledawson

Map of the new A6 from Toome to Castledawson

“It’s a well known bottleneck there in the mornings and the evenings,” he said.

“At the end of the M22 there will be a new junction built which will allow safe access, at the moment people have to drive across the central reserve to get on to the A6.

“We are providing a new junction and an over bridge. The scheme will then run offline all the way down to Toome.

“It’s being built away from the existing A6”, which he said will still be there once work is completed.

Mr Hitchenor went on to say that new over bridges would be built at Ranaghan, Greenan, Ballybaffey and Derrygown roads and that the new A6 would not allow for local access to make the road safer for drivers.

“There’s no junctions between Randalstown and Toome,” he went on, before explaining that the existing park and share would be moved to the other side of the road.

It is estimated that all 14km of the new A6 road between Castledawson and Randalstown should be finished by 2019/20, costing Stormont a total of £130m. But is unclear if all of the money has been made available for the project yet.

Transport Minister, Michelle McIlveen said: “This is a major investment for the north west and will be very welcome news to the local construction industry.

“The A6 dualling scheme is a significant project that will help to remove a major bottleneck and so improve safety and journey times on this strategically important route.”