West Tyrone Sinn Féin -- Building an Ireland of Equals

There is no 'Alternative' to the new A5

Published: 14 June, 2013

Dear Editor Through your columns I would like to address a number of issues which have been raised by previous contributors relating to the proposed A5 dual carriageway. Firstly, the proposal is not a 'road to nowhere'. It is an extremely important corridor which will connect the north west of Ireland to cities such as Belfast and Dublin. The A5 dual carriageway is essential for the economic development of this part of the island and informed predictions suggest that it will generate as much as £1 billion for the economy, provide hundreds of jobs during its construction and will make the west a more enticing prospect for direct investment and future job creation. The second point relates to the suggestion of an 'online'solution or upgrading of the current A5 to a 2+1 standard as an option. According to the Public Inquiry report there are over 1300 individual accesses and entrances along the existing A5. It was rightly stated at a recent public meeting that each of these is an accident waiting to happen. In addition to this, new DRD regulations forbid vehicles from merging directly on to 2+1 carriageways, so an upgrade would require additional roads on either side of the 2+1 to facilitate local traffic going north and south. This 'solution' would require the bypassing or vesting of homes and businesses in settlements such as Sion Mills and was ruled out at the Public Inquiry and in court. Thirdly, everyone has a right to use the road. This includes families who live along the route and strategic traffic, such as commuters making their way to the main towns and cities in the country. It is this interface between strategic and local traffic which gives rise to frustration, tailbacks and the increased likelihood of people 'taking a chance'. The construction of a completely new carriage would separate the strategic and local traffic, reduce journey times and make travelling a great deal safer for everyone. Along with the new dual carriageway, the current A5 would be retained and maintained as an A class road. Finally, the facts speak for themselves. According to statistics provided by the PSNI to the Ulster Herald, between 2005 and 2010 there were 97 recorded traffic collisions on the A4 with 9 people unfortunately losing their lives. Since the A4 dual carriageway opened at the end of 2010, thankfully no-one has lost their life on either the existing A4 or on the A4 dual carriageway and recorded collisions have dropped dramatically to 2 and 6 respectively by the end of 2012. In conclusion, on economic, social and safety grounds there is no alternative to the A5 Dual Carriageway. It is therefore important that all of the community and the political parties speak with one loud voice to demand that the single issue relating to the EU habitats directive, which is currently delaying the project, is swiftly and competently addressed and the project is got back on track again. The west needs this, our children depend on it. Yours sincerely Declan Mc Aleer MLA