Road misery as Cookstown bypass plans knocked back

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Cookstown motorists face more years of driving misery after the Roads Minister Michelle McIlveen announced that the long awaited town bypass would be mothballed until more money becomes available.

Replying last week to a written question from SDLP MLA Patsy McGlone, the minister said that all available money had been allocated to ‘higher priority schemes’ such as the A5 and A6 upgrades and the Magherafelt bypass.

“No further development work is planned at this time for the Cookstown Bypass scheme”, she said.

Frustration is growing after repeated delays have hit the plans for the new road, which were first announced thirty-five years ago.

Successive Roads Ministers have warned that the delivery of the scheme was dependant upon future funding proposals, and would have to compete with more high profile road plans.

For the last number of decades, residents and politicians have been clamouring to have a bypass built.

The estimated cost of the proposed Cookstown eastern distributor is in the range of £35 million to £45 million, and the estimated cost of the Magherafelt bypass is between £28 million and £40 million.

Work had been expected to get underway in 2013/14.

SDLP MLA Patsy McGlone said: “Whilst I understand the budget constraints on the Department, there has been little effort by the Executive to identify alternative funding arrangements which could allow for greater investment in our infrastructure.”

The SDLP will continue to lobby for imaginative steps to be taken to ensure the investment needed is available for the Cookstown Bypass scheme and other infrastructure development.”