Politician urges progression with Ballynahinch bypass

Politician urges progression with Ballynahinch bypass

9 May 2018

SENIOR civil servants have been urged to do all they can to deliver Ballynahinch’s new multi-million pound bypass.

Work started recently on an archaeological investigation along the route of the £35m scheme which will link the Belfast and Newcastle roads.

While pleased preparatory work on the eagerly-awaited project has begun, Strangford MLA, Peter Weir, has written to the Department for Infrastructure, urging it to expedite the scheme’s completion.

As part of the near two-mile scheme, major new roundabouts are proposed at the Belfast Road junction with the Saintfield Road and at the Newcastle Road junction with the Downpatrick Road.

A new bridge will also be constructed over the Moss Road, with the bypass passing under part of the Crossgar Road with a 90-metre long bridge constructed to take traffic over Ballynahinch River.

While progression to the construction stage remains subject to clearing statutory procedures and securing finance, roads engineers insist they are doing all they can to progress the scheme with work on the archaeological investigation part of the process.

Mr Weir said Ballynahinch was in “urgent need” of the new bypass in order to meet the needs of both local residents and businesses. 

“While I am glad that preparatory work has begun, in reality, we are still a number of years away from delivery,” the MLA continued.

“A considerable amount of work has already been completed, together with the completion of a public inquiry, the report of which was delivered at the end of 2016. This gave a green light, on paper, to the commencement of the project, pending the securing of funds.”

Mr Weir said development work on the bypass project continues, with a geotechnical investigation completed last year and advanced archaeological works currently underway. 

“At the same time, the government department is working up a procurement strategy and progress of the scheme will depend upon the success of a business case and funding being identified,” he continued.

“While I would love the process to be completed sooner, the reality of the situation is that the bypass will not be completed until 2021 at the earliest.”

Mr Weir added: “It would undoubtedly be of advantage to our cause if there were a functioning Executive and Assembly but, unfortunately, Sinn Fein continue to stand in the way of its restoration, preferring to sacrifice local services upon the altar of cultural warfare.”