|Construction scheme (completed)
|New dual-carriageway completing the connection from the Foyle Bridge to the Buncrana Road on the north western periphery of Derry city.
|1.9km / 1.2 miles
First proposed 1980s
First portion constructed at some point in 1990s (info anyone?)
Completion repeatedly delayed (See below for a breakdown of the delays).
Planning permission granted May 2006
Construction began 23 Apr 2007
Opened 20 March 2008 (about one month behind schedule)
£5m (with additional funding by private developers)
General area map (road will run from the roundabout at the top to the left near the sports grounds.)
A514 Foyle Bridge on this site
Northern Ireland Roads Service page on scheme
Few roads in the North West have been as delayed or as controversial as the Skeoge Link. Designed to connect the main west road from the city (the Buncrana Road) to the Foyle Bridge and access to the rest of Northern Ireland it has been proposed since the time the bridge was built in the 1980s. The route carries it through the H1 and H2 areas of the Upper and Lower Galliagh which are zoned for housing, but these cannot be built until the road has been built to give adequate access to them. This is why developers and local government have been so keen to see the project proceed.
The road will be constructed to 4-lane dual-carriageway standard (the original plan for a 4-lane single-carriageway seems to have been changed in late 2005). A separate project to build a roundabout at its junction with Buncrana Road was undertaken in the second half of 2005 at a cost of £1.8m and opened on 5 Jan 2006. The £5m quoted above is the government contribution. The developer contribution is unclear, but may be up to £15m.
According to a report given to Derry City Council in June 2006, the route of the road will be as follows: "The two-kilometre dual carriageway Skeoge Link road begins at ‘The Skeoge Link Roundabout’ on the Buncrana Road, rises on embankment to cross over the Skeoge River and crosses the Upper Galliagh Road in shallow cutting. The road continues north east alongside the electricity transmission line before curving east in cutting to cross over the Lower Galliagh Road to connect to the existing Skeoge Road west of Ballyarnett Roundabout. There will be new developer funded roundabouts to connect to the adjacent housing lands."
The existing cul-de-sac section of the Skeoge Link, which runs for about 800 metres west of Ballyarnett roundabout, is 2-lane single-carriageway. The new stretch of road between here and the eastmost roundabout will be constructed to single-carriageway standard (see map below). Although there is space here to dual the existing road, there are direct accesses with right-turns permitted onto the main road which is not the case for the rest of the Skeoge Link.
Plan of the scheme published by Roads Service.
Looking east along the Skeoge Link from between the two central roundabouts. [Jim O'Doherty]
The view looking west towards the Buncrana Road. [Stephen Baxter]
Update on 20 Mar 2008: The road opened without fanfare to traffic this morning, about a month behind the scheduled completion date of Jan/Feb 2008 when the scheme began. This new road has been finished to a high standard and will lead to significantly reduced congestion on the inner part of Buncrana Road and better access between north Donegal, Derry and the rest of Northern Ireland. The majority of money for the scheme was from private developers. However, the DRD itself seems to be very unclear over how much they've actually spent on the scheme. Today's press release gives the cost as "£4m". However, their own web site gives the cost as either "£5m" and "£4.8m" depending on what part of the site you read. A press release from the same department in May 2007 gave the cost as "£4.5m" while one a month later gave the cost as "£5m". The actual amount is thus unknown.
Update on 4 Mar 2008: The road is to be officially opened on 20th March 2008, according to the Derry Journal. This is about 1 to 2 months behind schedule, but welcome all the same. With thanks to Paul Wilkinson.
Update on 5 Feb 2008: According to this parliamentary written answer, the Skeoge Link will be officially opened in "mid March" 2008, which is later than the original scheduled completion date of Jan/Feb. The answer also states that the project is "well within budget". This week the media reported that youths were breaking onto the Skeoge Link site and racing vehicles on it. The photographs below were taken in late January. At this time, the road was largely completed except for the stretch that crosses Upper Galliagh Road.
The single-carriageway section of the Skeoge Link (to the east of the eastern roundabout)
seen on 26 Jan 2008. [Marc Sweeney]
The eastern roundabout of the Skeoge Link largely completed on 26 Jan 2008. [Marc Sweeney]
The view west along the Skeoge Link towards Buncrana Road from the
Upper Galliagh Road on 26 Jan 2008. [Marc Sweeney]
Update 6 Jan 2008: The Skeoge Link is now in an advanced stage of development, with both carriageways close to completion along most of the length. It now appears that the existing stretch of two-lane single-carriageway road connecting the Skeoge Link at Fernabbey to the Foyle Bridge is NOT being upgraded and will remain in this form for now. There has been some recent controversy surrounding a five-week closure of Upper Galliagh Road - see news story in the Derry Journal. The below pictures show how the road looked at Christmas:
The view north east along the Skeoge Link from Upper Galliagh Road on 24 Dec 2007. See update on 19 Oct below for the same view 3 months earlier. [Stephen Baxter]
View along the Skeoge Link at Buncrana Road on 24 Dec 2007. [Stephen Baxter]
Update 19 Oct 2007: There has been a lot of progress since work began 6 months ago. Site visitor Eamon sent these two photos, taken from Upper Galliagh Road (half way between the left two roundabouts on the map above) showing the formation taking shape:
The view north east from Upper Galliagh Road in October 2007. [Photo by Eamon]
The view south west from Upper Galliagh Road in October 2007. The roundabout in the distance is the new "Skeoge Link" roundabout on the main Buncrana Road. [Photo by Eamon]
Update on 23 Jul 2007: The map above was published on the Roads Service web site. It shows two roundabouts en route, presumably to feed into new housing developments. Interesting it also shows a stretch of *single carriageway* at the eastern end.
Update on 16 May 2007: According to site visitor Paul McCloskey, work began on the Skeoge Link on 23 April 2007, and this was confirmed by Roads Service.
Update on 15 Apr 2007: according to this news story, work is now due to begin in May 2007. Whether this is another actual postponement, or simply Tony Hassan being overly optimistic (he has not responded to my attempts to contact him) is unclear.
Update on 1 Dec 2006: according to this news story, a Derry councillor (Tony Hassan) claimed that work was due to begin in early March 2007. Although he welcomed the start, it must be noted that Mr Hassan backed the historians whose legal challenge caused the 6 month delay to the project in October (see above). Mr Hassan did not respond to my request for more information on that. This start date does seem broadly likely, although in the press release issued by the Roads Service later that day, the Skeoge Link was not mentioned. Best to wait and see.
Update on 17 Oct 2006: according to this new story, legal action being taken against the project on the grounds of disturbance of an historical site is now likely to delay commencement until Spring 2007.
Update on 9 July 2006: according to this House of Commons written answer, construction has again been pushed back, this time to September 2006 due to problems securing land from the developers.
Update on 5 Jan 2006: This press release today indicates that construction has now been pushed back to "mid" 2006!
In April 2003 the Roads Service announced that work would begin that Autumn. However, nothing happened and it emerged that there had been difficulties in the negotiations between themselves and the landowners about purchasing the lands. Derry City Council felt so strongly that the lack of the road was costing them investment and traffic congestion that in April 2004 they passed a motion exerting pressure on the Roads Service. A councillor said "The significance of this development cannot be under-estimated and the benefits that it has to offer, not only to the local community but to the city as a whole, are immense. It is now up to the Roads Service to ensure that no further delays happen with this development and that it begins at the earliest opportunity."
The Roads Service issued a press release on 13 September 2005 announcing that work will proceed in "early" 2006 and following a slightly altered plan. We have heard this before, but for the sake of Londonderry's residents I really do hope that it is true this time!
This is the only part of the Skeoge Link currently in existence, here seen on a snowy day in early 2004. Looking south east in the direction of Ballyarnett roundabout. [Photo by Wesley Johnston]
The road currently stops here, looking the other way from the previous photo. It will be extended through the hill ahead. [Photo by Wesley Johnston]
This is a typical view of the Galliagh area, which is due to be covered with housing once the new road is visible. [Photo by Wesley Johnston]