Campaign for Sperrins ‘super highway’

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Plans should be put in place to bring Mid Ulster district “in from the cold” with the construction of bypasses at Cookstown and Dungannon.

Members of the local council will tomorrow consider a motion calling for them to set up an intensive lobbying campaign to convince the Department for Infrastructure of the urgent necessity to construct the roadways.

Speaking ahead of the meeting, Ulster Unionist George Shiels also said a bypass was needed at the village of Moneymore.

“In its entirely this scheme would be tiny compared to works done and scheduled for the A5 and A6,” he claimed.

“If implemented this proposal would allow a linkage between the M1 and M2 creating a 100 mile ring road taking in Belfast and bringing Mid Ulster in from the cold.”

The Magherafelt councillor, who is tabling the motion, stressed there is a “great danger” that with the completion of the A6 renovations, Mid Ulster sandwiched between two super roads, faced being bypassed itself.

He said there was a possibility that investment, industry, tourism etc would go elsewhere, unless steps are taken to provide a “Sperrins super highway.”

“All the talking in the world of special trade areas or economic initiatives means nothing without good roads infrastructure,” he continued.

“The economic fulcrum of any administrative area, especially one the size of Mid Ulster, is the roads infrastructure.

“The massively successful engineering story of Mid Ulster is intoxicating, but unfortunately the hangover is about to kick in, and there is no point looking for the cure for there isn’t one.

“There might though be a remedy. The remedy is to provide a Sperrins super highway via proper bypasses at Cookstown and Dungannon and through that create a 100 mile ring road in the centre of Northern Ireland channelling and equalising traffic.”

Councillor Shiels said it is imperative that the engineering and manufacturing industry in the district can speedily source raw materials and equally important that the finished article, with added value can find an easy route to market.

“Movement of goods isn’t easy, industry is being strangled yet Magherafelt with its bypass is about to take off and conceivably leave Cookstown and Dungannon high and dry.

“When the A6 is complete from Londonderry to the M2 we in Mid Ulster will be trying to attract tourists and coax them to come into the south west through Mid Ulster but motorists won’t relish the thought of leaving a modern highway to sit in a traffic jam in Cookstown or Dungannon.”