A2 widening Londonderry - Buncrana Road

 

Status
Construction scheme (future)
Where
To widen the A2 Buncrana Road, Derry, to four lanes between Pennyburn Roundabout and the County Donegal border
Total Length
4.5 km / 2.8 miles
Dates

2005 - Proposed in Regional Strategic Transport Network Transport Plan

Apr 2007 - First public consultation

1-3 Apr 2008 - Second public consultation

10 Feb 2009 - Preferred route announced (online widening)
2019 - Draft Statutory Orders "could" be published (as of Jul 2017)

Construction likely to be after 2020 (as of Jul 2017)
(Changed from 2013-2018 as of Dec 2008)

Cost

45m-60m as of April 2010

(revised from 40-50m as of Jan 2009; itself changed from 18.3m as of 2005)

Photos
See below.
See Also

General area map - Google Maps

A515 Skeoge Link on this site

Roads Service offical web site on scheme

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

The A2 Buncrana Road is the principal route west from Derry towards Letterkenny and county Donegal. The project distinguishes between the 3.1km "urban" section between Pennyburn Roundabout and the A515 Skeoge Link, and the 1.4km "rural" section between the Skeoge Link and the border. The road is heavily trafficked (20,000 vehicles per day on the urban section, 14,000 per day on the rural section) and congested because it only has one lane in each direction.

This scheme aims to increase capacity by widening the route to four lanes: two in each direction. Due to land restraints, the urban section will be single-carriageway (ie, just a white line in the middle) but it is uncertain whether the rural section will be a dual-carriageway (ie, with a central crash barrier) or a single-carriageway. The plan is to include another new roundabout a few hundred metres inside the border. The screenshot below (Google Earth) shows the scope of the upgrade:

Roads Service are treating this project as two separate projects, one for the urban stretch and one for the rural stretch. It is uncertain whether Donegal County Council will be upgrading the N13 towards Letterkenny on the Irish side of the border.

At the first public exhibition in April 2007, Roads Service presented several routes for the urban section. In February 2009 the preferred route as announced - an online upgrade of the existing road. It's unclear what effect it will have on properties.

Progress

10 Jul 2017: In my last update 8 months ago (see below) I noted that what was then TransportNI (now DFI Roads - another name change!) were going to appoint a consultant to progress the development of this scheme and according to a report in the Derry Journal we have confirmation that that has indeed happened. The plan still seems to be an upgrade of the whole stretch from Pennyburn Roundabout to the border, presumably dual-carriageway from the Skeoge Link to the border but otherwise four lane single-carriageway. The DFI spokesperson quoted added that "It is anticipated that the Draft Statutory Orders could be published in 2019 which is likely to lead to a public inquiry". The "draft statutory orders" can only be produced once there's a finalised design, so to achieve that DFI would need to actively carry out design work over the next couple of years. It seems likely to me that the design work will be re-done since it's almost ten years since the previous "preferred route" was announced back in 2009 and both the traffic situation and road design policy have evolved since then. I get the impression that this scheme is moving its way up the priority queue.

14 Nov 2016: Nothing has happened on this scheme for almost eight years. The last development was the announcement of the preferred route in February 2009, an online upgrade. The Minister's has commented on the scheme in response to a Written Question (AQW 243/16-21) last week. He said that "I am delighted to confirm that, as part of the Stimulus Package Funding announced last month, I have secured funding as to resume the development work on the Buncrana Road improvement scheme" (though note that this is the second time work has "resumed" in the past three years; see previous update). He went on to say "I expect that my Department will appoint an engineering consultant to assist with the development of the scheme in the coming weeks." This is a more concrete development. He then went on to say "The next step in the development process will be to complete the preliminary design work, including reviewing the junction strategy. On completion of the preliminary design works the Department will publish the draft statutory orders and Environmental Statement which will be subject to a public consultation". Given that it's been almost 8 years since the preferred route was announced, and that public opinion on large-scale urban road widening has changed perceptively even in that timeframe, my feeling is that TransportNI may decide to go back to first principles and re-visit the preferred route. It could be that an online widening of Buncrana Road to a four lane single-carriageway may no longer be the most appropriate option. The comment about "junction strategy" is interesting - the 2009 preferred route analysis showed that the junctions on the upgraded road could actually be less safe than on the current road, so that's a significant point. The fact that the Minister has pushed this scheme back out of the slush pile reinforces the strong impression that he very much favours road schemes in the North West.

8 Dec 2013: It has been over three years since my last update, because practically nothing has happened on this scheme since the preferred route was announced in February 2009. However, in their most recent report to Derry City Council (2 Dec 2013), the DRD provide an update. In this they say that "work has recently resumed to complete the preliminary design and assessment of the scheme" although adding that "there are no plans to proceed to publication draft statutory orders." This means that while they've resumed work on the design they don't intend to proceed to a public inquiry any time soon (this is what the 'draft statutory orders' are for). This suggests that DRD does not regard this scheme is a high priority, because the public inquiry process and its follow-up can take about two years, and is required before a project can proceed to construction. Therefore I would not expect to see this scheme being constructed within the next 5 years, and possibly longer.

2 May 2010: Nothing new has been published about the scheme since last year. However, the cost being given from the scheme has been revised up from 40m-50m to the range 45m-60m.

12 Feb 2009: Two days ago the Regional Development Minister announced the preferred route for the scheme. The planners have opted for an online upgrade of the entire route. Pennyburn to Skeoge will be widened to a four lane single-carriageway (two lanes each way separated by a white line). Skeoge to the border will be widened to a dual-carriageway (two lanes each way separated by a barrier). The exact effect this will have on properties is unclear - it may just require land acquisition, but may also require some buildings to be demolished as well. This BBC article outlines some of the concerns that residents had after this announcement.

2 Jan 2009: According to a written answer in the Assembly, the cost of the scheme has risen sharply from its 2005 estimate of 18.3m to an "indicative budget of 40-50m". The information confirms that the scheme is still anticipated to get underway in the 5-10 year timescale.

16 Nov 2008: Roads Service have published a leaflet on the scheme. It confirms the timescale of the project (within 5-10 years) and comments that the preferred route is due to be announced in early 2009. It also includes a map showing that the main question mark on the route is whether to pass to the north or the south of Springtown Industrial Estate. The leaflet also says that the traffic flows on the urban section are now about 20,000 vehicles per day.

18 Mar 2008: A second public consultation exercise will take place on 1, 2 and 3 April 2008. The consultations will take place at Ramada Da Vinci's Hotel, Derry from 5pm to 9pm on 1 April, from 10am to 9pm on 2 April and from 10am to 5pm on 3 April. A public meeting will then take place from 7pm to 9pm on 3 April. All interested parties should be encouraged to participate as this is their main opportunity to air concerns and make comments.

Photos

The view north west along Buncrana Road from Upper Galliagh Road in 2004. [Wesley Johnston]

The view north west along A2 Buncrana Road at Enagh, just a few hundred metres inside Northern Ireland, in 2004. [Wesley Johnston]