Transport Minister Danny Kennedy has announced the start of construction of the Magherafelt Bypass at a total cost of £35million.
Contractors BAM/McCann have started preliminary work on the joint venture, following the award of contract on 18 February 2015.
The new six kilometre carriageway will entail the construction of a single carriageway (with sections of two plus one lane carriageway) through a green field site between the A31 Moneymore Road just south of Magherafelt to the A6 Castledawson roundabout. Construction is programmed across a period of 20 months, with completion expected in late 2016.
Speaking at a sod-cutting event to mark the commencement of construction Minister Kennedy highlighted the importance of the scheme: “This extremely worthwhile scheme has been long awaited by all road users in the Magherafelt area. Magherafelt town suffers from significant traffic congestion, particularly during peak periods, with parts of the existing road network within the town centre carrying around 25,000 vehicles per day. This very significant investment will help improve road safety, reduce congestion and improve journey times.
“When open to traffic in late 2016, it is anticipated the new road will carry around 14,000 vehicles per day and thereby reduce traffic volumes in the town centre road network by around 30%.
“I am confident this construction contract will help to secure jobs in the local construction industry and, in turn, contribute towards the continued economic development of Northern Ireland.”
A new roundabout will be created at the A31 Moneymore/Coolshinny Road junction just south of Magherafelt town and the new road will pass to the east of the town to connect directly with the A6 Castledawson roundabout. New roundabouts will be provided where the new road bisects the Ballyronan and Aughrim roads, all other side roads will be bridged over. Those sections of new carriageway between the Moneymore Road and the Ballyronan roads and between the Aughrim Road and Castledawson roundabout will be constructed as two plus one carriageways (three lanes) to facilitate overtaking and further improve on journey times.
Upon the opening of the bypass to traffic and when new traffic patterns settle down, TNI will monitor traffic movement within the town to seek to optimise traffic progression and the sharing of town centre space.
It is anticipated the new road will carry around 14,000 vehicles per day and thereby reduce traffic volumes in the town centre road network by around 30%