GRAHAM Farrans Joint Venture has completed a four-mile stretch of dual carriageway between Belfast and Londonderry ahead of schedule.
The first phase of the £185 million, nine-mile dualling, of the A6 North Western Transport Corridor between Randalstown and Castledawson went live to traffic on Sunday, August 4th – with M22 J3 grade separated Junction and associated side roads now complete.
An estimated 20,000 vehicles a day will benefit from the opened upgrade between Randalstown and Castledawson. The first phase of the scheme includes the construction of 10 major structures:
- Four overbridges carrying side roads and accommodation access roads over the new A6 mainline.
- One compact grade separated junction constructed online at the M22 J3.
- Four accommodation underpasses to service local landowners.
- A pedestrian footbridge constructed to link the village of Toome to the new Park and Ride facility at Drumderg Roundabout.
Gareth McLaverty, GRAHAM contracts manager commented “We’re delighted to have completed the first phase of this major project in Northern Ireland. It will help to strengthen the links between Belfast and Derry/Londonderry and will bring the long-term benefits to road users and the local community of reduced journey times and improved road safety.
“It has been a complicated project, but GRAHAM has a strong reputation for completing high-quality civil engineering projects which each bring their own unique complexities. Our team is well-prepared and has worked hard to adapt to all working landscapes to ensure that they first phase was completed on time and to a high standard.
“We have done our utmost to limit the environmental impact. An acoustic barrier, re-grading of agricultural land to reduce the impact of embankments, sustainable drainage ponds, farm accommodation tracks, overbridges and underpasses, landscaping planting and boundary treatment are among the work carried out.
“The hard work continues, and it is straight onto phase two of the work. Once fully completed, this project will bring great social and economic benefits to the local area, most notably reduced journey times and improvements to the road safety.
Impact of first phase
Prior to the completion of phase one, the existing road between Randalstown and Toome was a rural single carriageway trunk road, starting at the M22 Junction 3 west of Randalstown and continuing west for about 7 kilometres to the Drumderg Roundabout east of Toome.
Parts of the route had been improved over the last four decades. This included the bends at Derryhollagh being reconstructed in the 1960s, the existing road at Clonboy and Drumberg both being widened and strengthened in the 1970s. Improvements to the remainder of the road had been limited to minor junction improvements and routine maintenance surfacing.
Poor alignment combined with an increase in traffic volumes had reduced the number of safe overtaking opportunities, leading to increased journey times and an increased risk of frustrated drivers attempting to overtake in unsafe circumstances.
The new dual carriageway has been designed to reduce, as far as possible, damage to the environment, whilst taking account of factors such as road safety, engineering design and cost.
The results of the first phase of the scheme:
- It provides a high-standard dual carriageway between the M22 at Randalstown and the A6 Toome Bypass dual carriageway.
- Enables the removal of strategic traffic from the existing A6 through Moneynick.
- Allows the retention of the existing A6 Moneynick Road as a local facility.
- Provides positive economic returns, improved road user benefits and accident benefits.
The second phase will see the construction of a 4.5 miles dual carriageway between Toome and Castledawson. It starts east of Creagh roundabout and continues part offline and part online to the Castledawson roundabout.
The existing single carriageway, Hillhead Road between The Creagh and the western end of the Castledawson Bypass will be retained to provide local access.
The second phase is due to be completed in 2021.
Importance of work
The whole project will upgrade over nine miles of the A6 North Western Transport Corridor between Randalstown and Castledawson. It is a route used by 20,000 vehicles each day and often experiences congestion at key times.
The A6 is a strategically important transport corridor, which strengthens links between Belfast, Derry/Londonderry and the wider North West. The £185 million project is being delivered by the Department for Infrastructure and will bring the long-term benefits to road users and the local community of reduced journey times and improved road safety.
Once completed it will bring social and economic benefit to the local area, most notably reduced journey times and improved road safety. The ongoing work is also benefitting the local construction industry delivering local jobs and investment. It’s estimated there is £2.30 of benefit to the local economy for every £1 of capital investment and during the whole construction period 15-20 new paid employment and training opportunities have been created.