A1 Junctions Phase 2

 

Status
Construction scheme (future)
Where
To grade separate a final set of 5 junctions on the A1, build a link road at Milebush Road Dromore and close up all central reservation crossing points between Hillsborough and Loughbrickland so that right turns are no longer permitted.
Total Length
n/a
Dates

Scheme first proposed July 2006

Modified scheme given go-ahead in April 2008
Initial limited consultation took place Jan 2010
Stage 1 Report Approved - 20 Feb 2012

Second public consultation - Nov 2013

Preferred options and Stage 2 Report published - 27 Nov 2015

Consultants appointed to progress design - Sep 2015
First work to close up gaps in central barrier began - 6 Feb 2017

Cost
40-50m as of May 2016
(change from 42.8m as of Nov 2015; changed from 30m - 45m for the four main schemes, plus 3.6m for the Castlewellan Road scheme as of Feb 2012); (changed from 22m estimated in 2006 plan)
See Also

Roads Service leaflet on the scheme - Nov 2015

General area map. See also Google Earth screenshot below.

A1 on this site

Grade separation of Rathfriland Road, Banbridge on this site

Grade separation of Hillsborough Road, Dromore on this site

Grade separation of Newry/Cascum Road, Banbridge on this site

Grade separation of a further 4 A1 junctions on this site

A1/M1 direct flyover link on this site

Click here to jump straight down to updates for this scheme.

This proposal (also referred to as "A1 Junction Improvements Phase 2") is motivated by the desire to improve safety on the A1, which is plagued by crashes occurring at the notorious "gap" junctions - places where vehicles can turn right across the central reservation. These proposals will add four new grade-separated junctions in rural areas - 1 between Hillsborough and Dromore and 3 between Dromore and Banbridge - which will not only improve safety at these specific junctions, but also allow u-turns, hence allowing other nearby junctions to be reduced to left-turn movements only. Other side roads will be completely closed up. An onslip will also be provided at Castlewellan Road, Banbridge. Once all the junctions are built and side roads restricted or closed, the central reservation will be closed up completely between Hillsborough and Loughbrickland. This will turn this part of the A1 into an "Expressway" with no right turns allowed.

You can view a map of the locations of the proposed grade-separated junctions by clicking here [DRD map].

The maps below show the proposals for each junction in turn plus the Milebush Link Road in Dromore. The Milebush Link Road will connect Milebush Road to the existing grade-separated junction at Hillsborough Road, Dromore (which opened in June 2005). These graphics are all taken from the Stage 2 Scheme Assessment Report published in November 2015.

Works undertaken to date are:

  • Central crash barrier closed up from Hillsborough Roundabout to Dromore Road grade-separated junction. Work began 6 Feb 2017 for six weeks. Distance 2.3 km. Cost 230,000.

The Proposals (from north to south)

The only junction proposals located between Hillsborough and Dromore, this will connect Listullycurran Road via a fairly straightforward arrangement with an overbridge and two approach embankments. [DRD map]

The Milebush Link Road is a short stretch of road linking Milebush Road to the existing grade-separated junction at Hillsborough Road, Dromore, which opened in 2005. It will allow the Milebush Road connection to the A1 to be closed completely. [DRD map]


This junction is located between Dromore and Banbridge and connects both sides of Gowdystown Road, which is currently a pair of staggered T-junctions, via a flyover. It will have a cutting on the south and an embankment on the north due to the sloping land. [DRD map]


Located half way between Dromore and Banbridge, this junction connects Skeltons Road, Tullyhenan Road and Drumneth Road to the A1, also via a flyover. The slope of the land means it will involve a very substantial cutting on the south side and a substantial embankment to the north. [DRD map]

Located between Dromore and Banbridge, close to the latter, this one will connect Waringsford Road and Quarry Road to the A1 via a flyover. It will involve taking some land from Tullyraine Quarries on the SW side, and closing up their direct access onto the A1. It will also involve quite a network of local accommodation roads to give access to private properties that currently open directly onto the A1. [DRD map]


The final proposal is in Banbridge and involves the provision of a northbound onslip from Castlewellan Road onto the A1. Right turns will then be banned from Old Manse Road, but left-turn movements will be possible. Thus the junction will allow all movements except for exiting the A1 northbound. [DRD map]

Junctions to be Closed

This list is taken from the publicity leaflet published in late November 2015. The following junctions will be closed:
Northbound:
  •     Halfway Road northern junction (between Banbridge and Dromore);
  •     Banbridge Road (immediately north of Gowdystown Road);
  •     Milebush Road southern junction (on Dromore Bypass);
  •     Hillsborough Road southern junction (between Dromore and Hillsborough);

A1 Junctions Phase 2 - Preferred Option Leaflet Southbound:
  • Old Dromore Road opposite Taughblane Road (between Hillsborough and Dromore);
  • Milebush Road eastern (on Dromore Bypass);
  • Lower Quilly Road eastern (also on Dromore Bypass); and
  • Old Banbridge Road northern access (between Banbridge and Loughbrickland).
  • Springwell Loanin, North of Loughbrickland, will be closed to all movements EXCEPT left-turn-in movements.
All other minor road junctions and private accesses will remain open but be limited to left-in/left-out movements only.

Development of the Proposals

The original 2006 proposals included a map which suggested that the four junctions would be:

  • Hillsborough roundabout on the A1
  • Either Maypole Hill or Milebush Road in Dromore (it was unclear which)
  • B25 Gowdystown Road (between Dromore and Banbridge)
  • A26 Newry Road / Cascum Road, Banbridge

The last of these four was built by a private developer in 2006, as part of the Bridgewater Park retail park. The Hillsborough roundabout upgrade was subsequently included as part of the A1/M1 Sprucefield Bypass. In the "Investment Delivery Plan for Roads" published in April 2008, the plan was re-launched with these two proposals removed, and the proposed junction at Dromore also removed. The B25 proposal remained, and was joined by three others to make the current list of four.

Progress

28 Jan 2017: As noted in the previous update, Transport NI will on 6 February commence the first phase of works that will eventually see all gaps in the central reservation of the A1 closed up between Hillsborough and Loughbrickland. This first scheme will close the gaps on the 2.3 km stretch between Hillsborough roundabout and the Dromore Road grade-separated junction at the southern end of the town. Work will take six weeks and will cost 230,000. This is an extremely welcome move, as these dangerous gap junctions have resulted in multiple deaths in recent years. This scheme represents just under 10% of the stretch that is to be upgraded, so let's hope the remainder of the works can be carried out before too long. There has been no indication since late 2015 of any further progress on the four new grade-separated junctions and one new sliproad that are planned as part of the scheme. However in a Question for Written Answer in the Assembly just before Christmas (AQW 8693/16-21) the Minister said (referring particularly to the grade-separated junctions) "A significant amount of development work has already been carried out for the proposal, however, much remains to be done. The current phase of this work involves the completion of the detailed design and Environmental Statement in preparation for taking the proposal through the Statutory Procedures, which will likely include a Public Inquiry." So don't expect these junctions in the near future.

25 Sep 2016: Nothing much has happened on the five new grade-separated junctions plus one link road that are to be built as part of this scheme since the last update in December. However, TransportNI do seem to have started work on their related plan to close all gaps in the central crash barrier completely between Hillsborough and Loughbrickland. They seem to be starting at the north end, so the first stretch to get this treatment is the Hillsborough Bypass where all six existing gaps will be closed. The proposals were put out for public consultation in the summer and can be viewed here. Some of these are merely field accesses (like this one), but the one most likely to be noticeable to drivers is the closure of the Moira Road gap junction here, turning it into a left-in/left-out T-junction. Once these are all closed, I assume TransportNI will build a continuous crash barrier from Hillsborough Roundabout to the Dromore Road grade separated junction. While the legal order has been out for consultation, it's not clear if there is currently any funding to move towards actual implementation. By coincidence a lady tragically lost her life at the Moira Road junction on the A1 on 6 August, though it is worth noting that the crash does not seem to have involved a right-turn manoeuvre and so this scheme is unlikely to have affected the outcome. Finally, in a report to the Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Council in May, TransportNI gave the cost of the scheme as "40-50m", which seems to be a bit of an increase (though admittedly also somewhat vaguer) than the cost of 42.8m that was quoted in 2015. (I have decided NOT to list works to close gap junctions on this site as "current work" because they're likely to take place in small bits over a number of years and hence listing it as a "current scheme" could be misleading.)

2 Dec 2015: The DRD have finally published the "Stage 2 Report" that I suspect was approved by the DRD board in March 2014 (see previous update). The report recommends a single, preferred option for each of the four proposed grade separated junctions plus a link road in Dromore called the Milebush Link Road, plus a single onslip at Castlewellan Road, Banbridge. The report also lists all the junctions between Hillsborough and Loughbrickland that will be completely closed and those that will be reduced to left-in/left-out only. There is a lot to digest there, but for those who want the bottom line they have also published a public information leaflet that summarises it. On the basis of this report I have re-written the information at the top of this page to reflect the preferred options and included a map of each proposal. The public information leaflet does not mention a cost, but the full Stage 2 report gives a total cost of 42.8m. The grade-separated junctions all cost between 3.5m and 4.7m, except for Skelton's Road at 6.5m. The Milebush Road cost is 1.0m, while closing up or modifying the various side roads is listed as 5.6m. 2.5m is given for closing up the central barrier, 1.7m for accommodation works (maintaining access to property). A final 8.5m is for planning and contingency costs. This total cost of 42.8m is well within the broad estimate given in 2012 of 30-45m which is good news. The DRD may choose to appoint a contractor to build the entire scheme at once, or they may choose to award smaller contracts for the individual elements of the scheme (as happened with the previous grade-separated junctions on the A1). This latter approach would allow the scheme to begin with more limited funding. Meanwhile, a death yesterday on the A1 which occurred at one of the gap junctions between Loughbrickland and Newry (which the DRD have NO plans to remove) has again drawn attention to this issue, and raises the question of whether the scope of the A1 junctions project should be extended all the way to Newry.

9 Nov 2015: Although the DRD's web site used to state that the "Stage 2 Report" had been approved by the DRD board on 23 March 2014, this information has disappeared again from the equivalent page on the DRD's new web site. Now it is saying that consultants were appointed during September 2015, presumably to progress the design and settle on a single preferred option for each junction). So it's not clear exactly what has been happening since the last public exhibition two years ago, especially since at that time they said they expected the preferred options to be published by "early 2014", but which has still not happened. But at least there seems to have been some recent movement. I do hope the DRD engineers take the "big picture" view and resist the pressure and temptation to keep lots of these minor junctions open, since people are continuing to die at them (three since the previous update to this page). A little inconvenience for a small number of road users could save the lives of others.

18 Dec 2014: The Minister was asked about progress on this set of schemes in the Assembly last week and he gave some details. As we know, a public consultation was held just over a year ago in November 2013 where several options were given for four junctions and one design for the fifth junction (see update for Dec 2013 below). The Minister has now said that following that consultation "significantly fewer closures of minor road junctions with the A1 are being proposed than previously". This is presumably due to concerns about local people having to make long detours. When I first read this I was horrified as I thought it meant they were proposing to retain some "gap" junctions (where vehicles can turn right across the central reservation) but it seems that this is not what is proposed. The proposal is to keep a number of side roads open as left-in/left-out only. This still isn't ideal on a high-speed road such as this (since it means vehicles turning left onto the road from a standing start) and it is unfortunate that it means that the standard of the upgraded road will not be as great as it could be, but it is still better than the current situation. I at least hope that the left-in/left-out junctions are provided with sufficient acceleration and deceleration lanes to reduce the chances of rear-end type collisions.

16 Jul 2014: The DRD seems to have moved this scheme from the "forward planning schedule" to the "preparation pool" (although it now appears in both lists!). The former are schemes that are planned for the longer term, but aren't expected to be built soon, where as the latter are expected to proceed to construction within a few years. In practice, schemes can sit in the preparation pool for years and years, and even then require a funding allocation before they can be built, so it probably doesn't really tell us anything about timescales for this particular scheme. But what it does tell us is that Roads Service regard this as a worthy scheme that ought to be put amongst the others that are being developed to a point where construction could actually take place, rather than as a vaguer aspiration. My expectation is that these five junctions will continue to go through the planning process together but will then be put out to tender as smaller, separate schemes, perhaps allowing their construction to proceed with smaller, individual funding allocations.

25 Mar 2014: According to the DRD's web site, the "Stage 2 Report" was approved by the DRD board on 23 March 2014. I'm not sure how seriously to take the actual date, since the information appeared on the web site ahead of that date, which is actually a Sunday, so it may be a typo. However, the underlying point is probably valid, ie that the scheme has now advanced one more step. In December 2013 (see previous update below) DRD presented several options for each junction. The Stage 2 report has not been published online, but may well include the selection of a "preferred" option in each case, informed by the public consultations that took place in November. There is still no word on a construction timetable, and no funding has yet been allocated, but the manner in which this scheme is proceeding steadily through the statutory processes suggests that it is seen as important. Because the scheme consists of five separate junctions, it could well proceed as five separate construction schemes rather than one big scheme. This would mean that they would not all have to be built at the same time, and could be tendered progressively over a period of time.

4 Dec 2013: The second round of public consultations happened as expected in November. All the information is online here. In my previous update I said that they'd probably present a "preferred" option in each case. In fact, this was not the case. While they have reduced the number of options, they have only settled on a "preferred" option in one case, and the final decision will not be taken until early 2014. The list below describes what is proposed at each junction. In each case the link is to Roads Service's PDF that shows these on maps (please let me know if these links are broken, as Roads Service sometimes change URLs).

  • At Listullycurran Road, there are three options. The first two are variants on a flyover located at Listullycurran Road. The third option is an underpass located a few hundred metres further north at Backnamullagh Road.
  • At Gowdystown Road, there are three options. All three consist of a flyover, differing only in the layout of the sliproads and precise location of the bridge. Two of the options would require the demolition of an existing residential property.
  • At Skeltons Road there are three options. Two consist of a flyover located close to Skelton's Road, while in the third the bridge is located further east with link roads connecting them back to the existing local road network. Due to the lay of the land here, all three options would require substantial earthworks, consisting of both cuttings and embankments (such as a possible cutting through this hill).
  • At Waringsford Road there are three options. This junction is doubly challenging due to the close proximity of a quarry which can affect the stability of the bedrock and hence requires care when constructing a bridge. All three consist of flyovers. Two of the options are very similar, featuring a C-shaped pair of sliproads. The third option is more spread out, looking more S-shaped and involving longer connecting roads.
  • At Castlewellan Road, Banbridge, where a northbound onslip only is proposed, there is only one option. This is because the existing site is so constrained by existing development that only one option is really possible, ie a straight onslip onto the A1. The same site constraints mean that the sliproad would have vertical walls (similar to this one in Omagh). In this proposal the right turn from the northbound A1 onto Old Manse Road here would be closed off, so that only three of the four possible turning movements would be possible at the completed junction.

Roads Service say that they expect to have completed the process of selecting a preferred option for the first four junctions by "early 2014". After that they'll work on the legal documents they need to produce. The principal one of these is the Environmental Statement which identifies the impacts that the schemes would have on various aspects of society and the landscape. After that, there will almost certainly be a public inquiry. All these steps will probably take at least two years. After that, progress will depend on funding. Roads Service have to bid for funds to build a scheme, so at this point we can't say when construction might take place, except that it won't be within the next couple of years.

30 Oct 2013: Roads Service have announced that a second round of public consultations will take place from next week. This almost certainly means that they have now completed their analysis of the various options (see previous update below) and have come up with a "preferred" option in each case. It is likely that these are what will be shown to the public at the consultations which will take place as follows:

  • 7 Nov 2013, 11.30am-8.30pm, Old Hillsborough Courthouse, Hillsborough
  • 13 Nov 2013, 11.30am-8.30pm, Old Town Hall, Dromore
  • 19 Nov 2013, 11.30am-8.30pm, Old Town Hall, Banbridge

As this is one of the key opportunities for anyone interested in or affected by the plans to express their views, I would urge as many people as possible to turn up, see what is proposed and express your opinions and views to the DRD representatives.

1 May 2013: In the last update around a year ago I commented that the Stage 1 report had been approved in February 2012, but not published. Well, it has now been published and is viewable here. As I speculated at the time, the report does indeed present a fairly detailed analysis of various options for each of the five junctions but stops short of recommending one in particular for each site. If you don't have much time you can read the Executive Summary here, and view the maps for each location by clicking these links (see map above for locations):

The report also states that the cost of the first four schemes is in the range 30-45m (almost double what was estimated in 2006) while the cost of the final, smaller, scheme at Castlewellan Road is estimated to be 3.6m. The cost-benefit ratio comes out between 2.648 and 2.914, which is quite good and indicates that the scheme would bring almost three times as much benefit as cost over the 60 year assessment period. However the most significant benefit - that of saving lives at these dangerous gap junctions - cannot truly be assessed in this way.

6 April 2012: According to the Roads Service web site, the Stage 1 report was approved on 20 February 2012. No further information is given, and the minutes of this meeting have not been published yet. In most schemes a "Stage 1 Report" usually includes a fairly detailed analysis of various options and determines which options that are feasible and which are not. If approved, this leads to detailed design work. It is probably the same as the "preliminary options report" referred to in the previous update. It has not been published online as far as I can tell, so for now this is all we know.

5 June 2011: According to the minutes of a Roads Service board meeting which took place on 25 February work is progressing on the "preliminary options report" for these four junctions. This presumably is looking at how feasible it is to grade separate each junction, and how this might be achieved. It also confirms that this project will result in the central median barrier being closed up continuously from the M1 to Loughbrickland (but with no mention of the recently completed section from Loughbrickland to Beech Hill which has some central reservation crossings). The minutes also note that there will be another round of public consultation, but no timescale is given.

20 Jan 2010: According to the Dromore Today, a limited consultation exercise was carried out in late December and early January. The consultants wrote to a range of interested parties, and also sought the names of those individuals or organisations who should also be consulted. More detailed consultations are to be carried out later. Bizzarely, the newspaper article in question focuses entirely on what the reporter calls the "massive disruption" that the scheme will cause to a small number of people living on the side roads in question, while completely ignoring the fact that closing up right-turns on the A1 will undoubtedly save dozens of lives in the years ahead. Those who will no longer be able to make right turns on the A1 will undoubtedly feel inconvenienced, but surely not to the same degree as the families of those who have lost their lives at these dangerous junctions.

29 Aug 2009: In their report to Banbridge Borough Council in June 2009, Roads Service added the following comment: "The provision of a northbound on-slip linking from the A50 Castlewellan Road, Banbridge, to the northbound carriageway of the A1 Banbridge Bypass is also being considered." This proposal is in addition to the four junctions already being discussed. There is currently a link road connecting the A50 to the A1 via a T-junction here. However, since the plan is to close the central reservation on the A1, this link road would become accessible only to southbound traffic. A northbound onslip would retain access onto the A1 once the central reservation was closed. Only traffic leaving the A1 northbound would not be catered for, and this movement is restricted by the proximity of the Rathfriland Road junction about 500 metres to the south west.