Renewed calls delivery of A5 road project

Thursday, 26 July 2018

A SPATE of road traffic collisions on the A5 over the last week has prompted renewed calls for the delivery of a major new road project.
Construction on phase one of the A5 Western Transport Corridor (WTC) scheme between Newbuildings and Strabane was due to begin earlier this year however it was put on hold after a fresh legal challenge was launched by the Alternative A5 Alliance - a group made made up of landowners, farmers and supporters - against the Department of Infrastructure (DfI).
It is understood one of the grounds of the objections relates to the decision to proceed with the scheme being taken by the department's Permament Secretary, Peter May, in the absence of a Minister. Issues around environmental assessments are also expected to feature when the case is heard in September.
It is listed to begin in the High Court on September 4 and is expected to run over the course of four days.
An outcome in favour of the department could see construction commence in January 2019 however, an appeal or unfavourable outcome would delay this further.
West Tyrone SDLP MLA., Daniel McCrossan - a fervent supporter of the A5 - says there is an urgent need for the delivery of the scheme with four collisions occurring along it over the past week alone.
Last Friday, there was a collision involving five cars between Sion Mills and Victoria Bridge however there were no major injuries reported.
In the most recent collision, police attended a two-vehicle road traffic crash on the Beltany Road in Newtownstewart on Saturday.
The collision involving a silver Volkswagon Bora and a red Toyota Rav 4 occurred at around 1pm. One woman was taken to hospital to be treated for injuries that are not believed to be life threatening. Police have appealed for witnesses.
"Enquiries are ongoing and anyone who witnessed the collision is asked to contact police in Strabane on 101 quoting reference number 688 21/07/18," a PSNI spokesperson said.
Speaking yesterday (Tuesday), Daniel McCrossan, said he was glad no-one was seriously hurt but added that the crashes highlighted the need to improve local infrastructure west of the Bann and in particular, the importance of delivering the A5.
"We need the A5 scheme to go ahead immediately and without any delay. Not only will it bring much needed investment to the area but it will also save countless lives," he said.
"This week, there's already been four accidents on the (A5) road - thankfully no fatalities. But as time goes on, there will be more and more people needlessly losing their lives if action is not taken.
"We have no Stormont Executive and this is hampering progress of the full A5 scheme. We've selfish detractors embattled in a legal bid to stop the scheme. Yet, it's been proven time and time again, that dual-carriageways have a positive impact on road safety.
"These issues are hugely concerning but if the status quo continues, that we have no Executive, we can expect the same to continue. This really is a travesty in itself," he said.


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