A29 Cookstown Bypass

 

Status
Construction scheme (future)
Where
To provide a single-carriageway (2+1 lane arrangement) bypass to the east of Cookstown town centre. The proposals also include the Sandholes Link Road. Although it is being progressed as part of this scheme, I have created a separate page for the Sandholes Link Road to keep this page manageable.
Total Length

3.3 km / 2.05 miles of new two-lane road plus

0.4 km / 0.25 miles of "dualling" of the existing A29 dual-carriageway north of the town

Dates

1978 - Scheme proposed in East Tyrone Area Plan

1999 - Scheme included in Cookstown Transportation Study

2005 - Included in Regional Strategic Transport Plan

2006 - Included in Sub-Regional Transport Plan for Cookstown

June 2007 - Consultants appointed to progress design

Late 2008 - Initial report recommends eastern corridor
10 June 2010 - Preferred route announced
7 Dec 2021 - Preferred route to be announced for second time
Mid 2022 - Draft legal orders to be published (as of Nov 2021)
2023-36 - Procurement and construction, assuming funding available (as of Dec 2021)

(construction date changed from "2012" as of Sep 2008)

Cost

45-55m as of Nov 2021 (changed from 30-4m as of Feb 2025; 29.9m as of June 2010; 13.1m as of Spring 2009; 10.8m in 2002 prices as of June 2005)

Photos

Start of proposed bypass on Dungannon Road (Google Streetview)

Route of proposed bypass as seen from Killymoon Road (Streetview)

Site of proposed roundabout on Cloghog Road (Streetview)

Route of proposed bypass as seen from Coagh Road (Streetview)

Site of proposed roundabout on Moneymore Road (Streetview)

See Also

General area map - Google Maps

Official web site on scheme - Roads Service

A505 Sandholes Link Road - on this site

2010 Public Information Leaflet - Roads Service

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

Cookstown suffers from traffic congestion because the main A29 route through the town centre is also the main commercial street, with almost 16,000 vehicles per day going along the main street as of 2021. Of this, 48% of traffic in the town is going straight through the town, according to the Stage 1 Scheme Assessment Report. New developments are increasing pressure on this route and the need for an alternative route to service these areas is growing. This scheme envisages a single-carriageway bypass running round the eastern side of the town carrying all traffic that does not wish to stop in the town. The original proposal in 2006 was for a more modest 'distributor' road, but it has since expanded into a proposal for a full bypass. It is estimated that a new bypass would be carrying 22,000 vehicles per day if it had been open in 2014, and 35,000 per day by 2029.

Route as proposed in 2021

The map below shows the preferred route publicised in December 2021 (click to view larger). At the southern end the route begins at the existing roundabout on the Dungannon Road. The route will then run generally north-east across the Ballinderry River, and then meet Killymoon Road at a new roundabout. Castle Road will be severed (pedestrian access to be maintained by an underpass). The eastern end of Castle Road will be connected to Killymoon Road roundabout by a short link road. The plans also indicate a short northbound overtaking lane along this stretch. The route then meets Cloghog Road at a proposed new roundabout just to the east of Festival Park. After the roundabout the route runs north over Coagh Road and Old Coagh Road on two bridges. Finally the route meets Moneymore Road at a new roundabout about 300 metres before the existing dual-cariageway. The plans indicate that this 300 metre stretch would be upgraded to dual-carriageway for safety and consistency. The plans show the road as having a 2+1 lane arrangement the whole distance, with northbound traffic getting an overtaking lane for most of the route, but southbound traffic getting an overtaking lane at the northern end. The whole route also features a segregated foot/cycle way along the whole route. The proposals also include the Sandholes Link Road. Although part of this scheme, I have created a separate page for it to keep this page manageable.

Previous Proposals

2010: Proposals released in 2010 gave a Preferred Route that was, from a route perspective, identical to the 2021 proposals except that it did not feature a junction at Killymoon Road. Additionally, in the 2010 proposal the out-of-town side of Castle Road would have joined the bypass directly as a left-in/left-out junction rather than being linked by a short new road to Killymoon Road as in the 2021 proposals. Finally, the 2010 proposals would have meant closing off Old Coagh Road where it would be severed by the bypass. However, the 2021 plans now propose to keep the road open and bridge the bypass over it instead.

2006: The map below shows the route of what was then known as the Cookstown Eastern Distributor, as contained in the 2006 Sub-Regional Transport Plan. Beginning on the A29 Moneymore Road north of the town, the route follows the existing 600 metre "East Circular Road", constructed in the mid 2000s by a private developer. From here the route crosses the Coagh Road and terminates on the existing roundabout at the junction of Dungannon Road and Tullywiggan Road south of the town. This plan will now not be built.

Progress

21 Dec 2021: DFI published their latest proposals for the Cookstown Bypass two weeks ago. You can download the scheme brochure here. You can also access a computer-simulated fly-through of the scheme here. Finally, and presumably for a limited time, you can attend a virtual public exhibition here. I have also posted the current design further up this page. In the end, the route is virtually identical to the 2010 proposals but differs in some details, particularly the addition of a junction (roundabout) at Killymoon Road and a bridge over Old Coagh Road (rather than severing it). The proposed T-junction at Castle Road has now been deleted and replaced with a short link road connecting Castle Road to Killymoon Road. Other than that, the changes are mostly details of the design and minor alignment adjustments. It is still proposed to dual a short stretch of the A29 Moneymore Road for consistency (similar to what happened at the Comber Bypass 20 years ago) and also the provision of a fully segregated foot/cycleway along the entire scheme. The scheme brochure anticipates the draft legal orders (Environmental Statement, Direction Order, Vesting Order) will be published during 2022 which will likely lead to a public inquiry, a process which typically takes a year to run its course. These timescales seem realistic and plausible. The leaflet then says that procurement and construction could take place in the period 2023-26. While this timescale is certainly possible, I would not put money on these dates as it would depend not just on a successful public inquiry (though this is likely) but also on the Executive giving the scheme funding at that point (far less certain), currently estimated to be 45-55m.

29 Nov 2021: Having languished now for eleven years with nothing happening, some further movement is happening on this scheme. Firstly, DFI Published the Stage 2 Assessment Report on 10 November 2021. It is worth pointing out that a document of the same name was also published in 2010, but it's likely that so much time has passed since then that DFI have decided to update the document. The document identifies four possible routes, and concludes by recommending Purple A along with the Sandholes Link Road at a total cost of 42.8m (note this may not include land or planning costs). However, the document doesn't actually contain any maps so we can't actually easily say what this is and how it compares to the preferred option announced in 2010! However, it does seem to join the A29 Moneymore Road further away from the town than the 2010 route, about 400 metres from the start of the existing A29 dual-carriageway. All of this information is to be presented to the public at public events to be held on Tuesday 7 and Wednesday 8 December in the Burnavon Arts and Cultural Centre, Burn Road, Cookstown from 11am to 9pm. I'd encourage all those with an interest to turn up. Bear in mind that, due to Covid restrictions, you must book in ring the Burnavon Arts and Cultural Centre at 028 867 69949 (using Option 1). The press release also states that DFI hope to publish the draft legal orders by mid 2022. The Environmental Statement has yet to be published. There is likely to be a public inquiry once it is, a process that can itself take up to a year. There is currently no money allocated to construction and DFI have not speculated on a timescale for construction either, so there is a bit of time to go yet.

21 Jul 2018: In their most recent report to Mid Ulster District Council on 29 June, DFI Road confirmed what the council themselves said earlier last month, namely that DFI Roads agreed to allocate funding to resume planning for this project. In the report DFI say they "have appointed a consultant to assist in updating, reviewing and taking forward scheme development work" and go on to say that they have "a view to publishing the draft Statutory Orders and Environmental Impact Assessment Report in 2020". These are the documents that would form the basis of the public inquiry that would certainly be needed. If the scheme passes the public inquiry then it moves into a list of advanced schemes that could proceed if the (currently non-existent) Executive gave it the funding. To explore a best-case scenario, if the Inquiry happened in late 2020 then the outcome would be known by mid 2021, followed a procurement process taking us to early 2022 and work commencing in mid 2022. But in practice there are many schemes competing for funding so it's likely to take longer than this. Local representatives will certainly keep the pressure on DFI to ensure the scheme stays as far ahead in the queue as possible.

24 Jun 2018: The scheme has now been essentially "parked" since 2010, with only a bit of work taking place in that time. A bit of political pressure from Mid Ulster Council has resulted in DFI Roads agreeing do allocate funding to carry out more planning for this project. It's unlikely that this further work will lead to the project happening in the near future. For one thing, it's not regarded as imminent by the Investment Strategy for Northern Ireland which just says "after 2020" (which is just what it says against every project that doesn't have a construction timescale). What it probably does mean is some engineer time in DFI Roads being allocated to reviewing the scheme and updating it. Since it's been almost a decade since the preferred rotue was announced, it would probably be necessary to go back and revisit this as road standards, traffic movements, urban fabrics and environmental considerations all change over time. So it's good news that work has resumed, but I would nevertheless not expect to hear too much more in the next year or so.

2 May 2016: It has been over five years since I updated this page, and the reason is that absolutely nothing has happened on the Cookstown Bypass since the Stage 2 Assessment Report was published in 2010. This was confirmed in a Written Question (AQW 54507/11-16) to the DRD Minister in March where she said that "With funding being allocated to other higher priority schemes such as the A5, A6 and Magherafelt Bypass, no further development work is planned at this time for the Cookstown Bypass scheme". This was unusually frank for a DRD Minister - normally they put it in more flowery terms like "further design work is contingent on future budget allocations". But in any case, it suggests that this scheme is basically "parked" until such times as the Executive decides that it is worth recommencing design work, and I would therefore see it as inconceivable that it will happen within 5 years. Given current Executive priorities I also see it as unlikely to be completed within the next 10 years. Needless to say, none of this has gone down well in Cookstown. The only change I can find since 2010 is that the cost is now being quoted as 30-40m, which is slightly up on the estimate of 29.9m being quoted in 2010.

14 Jan 2011: The budget for Roads Service in the period 2011-15 was published yesterday. As suspected in the previous update, budget cuts mean that this scheme looks unlikely to proceed until at least 2015. This also applies to the Sandholes Link Road which is to be built as part of this scheme.

30 Dec 2010: In the previous update I noted how there was no update on the timescale of construction of this scheme. The last indication we got was in 2008 which suggested construction would get underway in 2012. It is notable, therefore, that in this press release two weeks ago Roads Service merely said that "design and development work... was continuing to progress". The fact that there is no mention of further dates suggests that the construction timetable is much vaguer than previously thought. This could well be due to the financial cutbacks.

9 July 2010: The "Preferred Route" for the proposed Cookstown Bypass was announced last month, on 10th June. This is the publication of where the new road is planned to run, although as the final design is developed, the route may still shift a little. You can download the public information leaflet here. The scheme has clearly grown in the development. The 2006 proposal was for a 2.8km long distributor road (ie with lots of junctions) hugging the eastern edge of the town. However, what is now proposed is a road over 1km longer and running much further out from the town. While originally envisaged as a "distributor", the plan is now for a genuine bypass with only one intermediate junction (at Cloghog Road). Presumably the substantially reduced traffic on the main street, once the bypass opens, will render a separate distributor road unnecessary. The route is described in more detail above. The "Eastern Distributor" proposal contained in the Sub-Regional Transport Plan of 2006 is now abolished, as stated by the Minister, since it is superseded by this more ambitious design. Two years ago construction was scheduled for 2012, but it is unknown if this is still the case. The total cost of this route is given in the full report as 29.9m.

The preferred route announcement also contained a proposal for an upgrade to Sandholes Road, which links the A29 to the A505 to Omagh, to create better links between these two routes.

8 June 2010: Roads Service have finally decided to tell us when the public constulation event will take place, with less than 48 hours' notice. It wil take place on Thursday 10th June at South West College, Burn Road, Cookstown. They have not felt the need to say in their press release what time it will run at, so presumably you just turn up on the day and hope for the best. In any event, the exhibition will reveal the "preferred route" for the road. The Minister described the scheme as consisting of "4.25 kms of new carriageway. A new wide single carriageway will extend from the Dungannon Road Roundabout to the south of Cookstown over a distance of 3.95 kms to meet the Moneymore Road to the north at a proposed new roundabout. Under the proposal, the existing dual carriageway between Cookstown and Moneymore will also be extended by some 300 metres to meet this new roundabout. One further roundabout is proposed along the length of the bypass at its junction with the Cloghog Road/Clare Lane, providing convenient access to the town centre and local amenities." I'll post up more information after the event and once the rest of the information has been released.

2 May 2010: Roads Service are saying that there will be a "public information day" during May. This is very likely to coincide with the announcement of the preferred route, which has been anticipated for almost a year. This follows the presentation of the "Stage 2 Report" (a more detailed document) to the Board of Roads Service in late March. However, no information has been released about where or when the public information day will take place.

16 June 2009: The Regional Development Minister gave an update on the scheme last week. He said that "Design work on the proposed Cookstown bypass is progressing well. A public consultation event was held in January of this year and feedback from this, together with on-going design work will facilitate a further public information event to announce the preferred route alignment later this financial year." This may mean that the preferred route announcement may not be announced until Spring 2010, a little later than was hoped last year.

16 May 2009: A few months ago, the detailed initial "Scheme Assessment Report" was issued and is available on the Roads Service web site. Although the web site is giving the cost as "13.1m", the document itself gives the cost of the scheme as being massively higher - in the range 27.4m to 43.9m depending on the route chosen. The document recommends that the eastern route is the best route, although it also recommends an additional road (called the Sandholes Link Road) to link the new road to the A505 Drum Road to the west of the town. The eastern route will now be developed further and route options developed. Last October it was said that the preferred route would be announced "later in 2009".

21 Oct 2008: According to an Assembly written answer on 17 October, the preferred route corridor (the general route of the road) is due to be announced "later this financial year", which we can take to mean sometime around Spring 2009. The specific preferred route (the exact route within the corridor) is scheduled to be announced "later in 2009".

16 Sep 2008: Mid-Ulster MLA Billy Armstrong has claimed that he has had correspondence from Roads Service to the effect that this scheme will go ahead in 2012 with completion in 2014. This is in contradiction to previous official information with has been that this scheme is in the "forward planning schedule", which generally applies to scheme that are at least five years away from commencement. Nevertheless, if this information is accurate, then it means that the scheme may have been moved to the "preparation pool" for schemes that are within five years of commencment. However it is also important to remember that the anticipated start dates for the majority of new road schemes tended to get later over time, so this date of 2012 may well prove to be on the optimistic side. It is still unknown what contribution, if any, private developers will make.

7 Mar 2008: As of now, only the short 600 metre section of the road at its northern end has been completed. Consultants were appointed in June 2007 to progress a design, but according to this written answer, such roads can typically take "at least six years to progress". This should not be taken as a definite timescale, but rather a general indication that construction is not imminent. Private developers may, of course, progress parts of the scheme earlier than this.