FINANCE Minister Sammy Wilson has today announced that £40m has been allocated to the Magherafelt bypass.
Last week the Mid Ulster Mail reported that the motion for the money set aside for the now stalled A5 to be used for the Magherafelt bypass had been raised in Stormont.
In a discussion today (Monday) in the Assembly Mr Wilson announced that half of the DRD allocation will go on additional road maintenance schemes, including £40m for the Magherfelt bypass.
Sinn Féin MLA for Mid Ulster Ian Milne welcomed the announcement saying: “I am delighted that the Minister has now announced £40million for the completion of the Magherfelt bypass. This bypass has been in the pipeline since the 1990’s so we have waited for this day for a long time.
“I have raised this issue with the Minister as did my predecessor Francie Molloy as we see this a major stimulant for the area. Not only will help alleviate traffic congestion including heavy lorries going through the town but it will also help stimulate the construction industry.
“The project will now begin in autumn of 2014 and will provide a much need economic boost to the local community.
“I hope that this project will be the first of much needed infrastructural development that is needed in the area in order to attract inward investment and economic prosperity to the region.”
DUP MLA Ian McCrea also welcomed the announcement saying that it was a much welcome boost for those who travel through the area.
Ian McCrea said: “I am delighted that the DUP Finance Minster Sammy Wilson has announced on behalf of the Executive that the Magherafelt by-pass project at a cost of £40 million would now proceed with the anticipation that work will begin on the ground in the Autumn of 2014.
“Since becoming an MLA, I have consistently spoken in favour of the Magherafelt by-pass and in recent months have taken the opportunity to speak to the First Minister, Finance Minister and the Regional Development Minister, to highlight the urgent need for the Magherafelt by-pass and am glad that they have realised its importance.
“Anyone who travels through Magherafelt will be more than aware of the traffic congestion in the town centre and businesses know too well of the detrimental impact that the traffic has on footfall in the town centre therefore the Executive approval of this project can only be seen as a good news story for Magherafelt.
“It is important to recognise the important work carried out by the local business community in lobbying MLA’s and Councillors in support of the by-pass to ensure that this project got the necessary cross party support for all the people in Magherafelt and those who travel through the town day and daily.”
Ulster Unionist Party’s Mid-Ulster representative Sandra Overend MLA also hailed the bypass as great news.
Mrs Overend, who is the Economy Spokesperson for the Ulster Unionist Party, said;
“I would like to commend my Ulster Unionist colleague, the Regional Development Minister Danny Kennedy, for securing the funding for the long-awaited Magherafelt bypass project.
“I am particularly pleased that Danny has won the argument in the Executive to re-profile existing capital to move forward with the project.
“It should also not go un-noticed that only two weeks ago in the Assembly the DUP and Sinn Fein voted against prioritising the Magherafelt bypass for capital –yet this week it has emerged as the capital priority for 2014/15.
The £40 million cost of the scheme will represent a significant investment in the local economy, particularly the hard-pressed construction industry which will benefit.
“This is a development that has long been on the table, and one that I have lobbied the Minister on for a considerable time. My party colleague, Roads Minister Danny Kennedy MLA, is also committed to this scheme, and has been calling on his Executive colleague to find the funding for it.
“I have spoken to countless constituents, commuters, customers and local business owners, all who have underlined the pressing need for this project. The bottlenecks that build up in Magherafelt not only delay the through-traffic, but they also deter business from the town centre. The local benefits of improved journey times, reduced congestion and the improved quality of life for people in Magherafelt will be extremely welcome.”