Strathroy Link Road, Omagh

 

Status
Construction scheme (future)
Scheme
New single-carriageway link road connecting the B48 Derry Road, Omagh (close to A5 junction) to U1526 Strathroy Road.
Total Length
0.91 km / 0.57 miles
Dates

Late 1980s - Included in 1987-2002 Omagh Area Plan
2007 - Included in Sub-Regional Transport Plan 2015
July 2010 - Outline planning permission granted for Phase 1

20 June 2013 - Planning permission granted for whole road

26 Feb 2014 - Before this date, Dept of Education agreed to fund the road
Early 2015 - Vesting Order to be published (but not seen as of Oct 2015)

22 Jul 2016 - Tendering process began

Feb 2017 - Award of contract (as of Nov 2016)
Construction anticipated to last 15 months (as of Nov 2016)

Mid 2018 - Estimated completion (as of Oct 2016)

Cost

7m, of which Dept of Education is providing 6m (as of June 2014)

Photos
None yet - let me know if you have any to contribute!
See Also

Opportunity Omagh - web site of developer
Maps of scheme - Planning Service (click "Associated Documents")

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

The draft Sub-Regional Transport Plan (SRTP) of 2006 included a proposed "ring road" round the north of the town, connecting the various arterial routes - starting on Derry Road, crossing Strathroy Road and Gortin Road and terminating on Old Mountfield Road at Killyclogher. By the time the final plan was published in 2007, however, most of this proposal had been quietly deleted, with only the Derry Road to Strathroy Road link included. This page relates to this proposal. The approximate route of this road link is shown on the map below:


View Strathroy Link Road, Omagh (proposal) in a larger map

The route will be built to 7.3 metre two-lane single-carriageway standard, ie one lane each way separated by a white line. At the south-western end the road will link to the existing Derry Road via a new roundabout, adjacent to the existing roundabout. At the north-eastern end it will meet Strathroy via a simple "Give Way" T-junction. It will feature a significant bridge over the River Strule, which DRD documents indicate will be a three span structure with a total length of 88 metres. The road will also feature footpaths on both sides, with the southern one also accommodating a cycle path.

The new link will greatly reduce the severance effect of the River Strule - currently there is almost no interaction between the communities on the two banks of the river. The nearest bridge is a footbridge 1km away, while the nearest road crossing is at Sedan Avenue, in the town centre. This road link will encourage greater economic and social cohension.

With thanks to John Campbell of the BBC for alerting me to some of this information.

Phases

The scheme was originally being taken forward by a private developer who is planning a large commercial site called Opportunity Omagh on the Derry Road. This developer was to have been required to build half of the Strathroy Link Road as a condition of planning permission. The scheme had therefore been divided into two phases:

  1. The stretch from Derry Road to the edge of the river, including the new roundabout.
  2. Bridge over the river, and the stretch from there to Strathroy Road.

The image below, from the WDR&RT Taggart web site, shows the proposed Opportunity Omagh development along with Phase 1 of the Strathroy Link Road. However, the scheme had not yet gone ahead by the time it was decided that the road would be needed to give access to the shared education campus at Lisanelly, due to open in 2018, so now (2014) the whole road is being built at taxpayers' expense.
Opportunity Omagh mockup image

Updates

27 Dec 2016: The tendering process for this scheme has now been underway for 5 months but has not yet been awarded. In a Written Question in the Assembly (AQW 6089/16-21) the Infrastructure Minister stated that the intention is to award the tender in February 2017, with a view to beginning work in the spring. Construction is now estimated to take 15 months, rather than 16, which would mean completion in the summer of 2017. This is well in advance of the opening of the completed Strule education campus in 2020. The Minister also said that permission has been given to "make" the Vesting Order (ie, to actually buy the required land). It's not clear whether this has actually taken place yet.

Note that provision of the shared education campus also involves widening a short length of B48 Mountjoy Road/Gortin Road in Omagh from two to four lanes each way. I don't intend to create a separate page for that scheme, but you can see more details here.

8 Oct 2016: There is still no sign of the construction tender being awarded, but we must be getting close. Last month the Infrastrucutre Minister was asked about the scheme via Written Questions (AQW 3137/16-21, AQW 3135/16-21 and AQW 3133/16-21). The Minister stated that the scheme would be completed by "mid 2018", suggesting it might slip beyond the end of the 2017/18 financial year as originally planned. With construction due to take 16 months, completion by mid 2018 would require work to be underway by around February 2017 which seems plausible. The Minister also gave the estimated total scheme cost as 7.2m. The Department of Education is funding the bulk of this, about 6m with DfI funding the remainder.

7 Aug 2016: The tendering process for this scheme got underway on 22 July - with the scheme listed on the "Current Tenders" page on the DfI web site and the EU's tenders list. The construction cost is given as 6.3m, though note that this is not the total project cost which also includes things like land purchase and planning. The "contract duration" is given as 66 weeks, or just under 16 months, which we can take to mean the time period from contract award to completion. The first round of the tender process (the pre-qualification questionnaire that narrows down the list of possible contractors) ends on 25 August, after which the next part of the process will take place. Hypothetically, if construction were to begin at the end of 2016 then the road would be completed by Spring 2018 which would only just nip it in before the end of the 2017/18 financial year which is the deadline for completion (see my comment in the update for 29 Oct 2015 below where I referred to "inevitable slippage"!).

1 May 2016: The consultation into the draft Vesting Order (the document that compels landowners to sell the land the DRD need to build the road) took place from 5 January to 5 February. The DRD received just three responses to this consultation. All the most up-to-date documents are at the bottom of the relevant page on the DRD web site, including an appropriate assessment of the river environment under the Habitats Directive. It is not clear what is happening right now - last October a DRD document indicated that the construction tender would be advertised in late 2015 and be awarded by June 2016. However, as far as I can tell, it has not yet gone out to tender so it looks to be have been delayed by quite a few months. We will keep watching to see what happens next. The scheme does need to be completed by the end of 2017-18 financial year due to the development of the Lisanelly shared education campus - with a 16 month construction period this would mean work getting underway by December 2016 at the latest.

9 Nov 2015: Another update for this scheme, this time to note that the draft Vesting Order and accompanying map have just been published. This details the land that the DRD intends to buy in order to build the road. It is being published now in draft form as it will now go out to consultation (giving anyone, but principally affected landowners, an opportunity to object).

29 Oct 2015: The DRD has published their most recent procurement plan, and it lists this scheme which gives us some firm construction information for the first time. It gives the construction cost as 5m - though note that this is not the total project cost, which also includes planning and land acquisition. It states that the contract is currently expected to be advertised in late 2015, and to be awarded in June 2016 (and with work presumably commencing quickly after that) with a total construction period of 16 months. 16 months from June 2016 takes us to October 2017 which would certainly be enough time for to meet the DRD's target of Spring 2018 even allowing for the inevitable slippage. (The Vesting Order was to have been published in early 2015 but I have not seen it - does anyone know anything about this?)

5 Sep 2015: An article appeared about this road in the Ulster Herald at the end of July. The main purpose of the article is to report that the Department of Education is to fund most of the cost (ie 6m of the 7m cost) of this road, although we have known this since June 2014 (see previous updates below). However it's not clear if the increasingly dysfunctional nature of the Stormont Executive will impact on budgets and hence on this funding. TransportNI has said that they are aiming to complete the road by Spring 2018, although the article points out that strictly speaking it doesn't have to be completed until the shared education campus at Lisanelly opens in September 2020. The 2018 target date would mean construction getting underway around mid 2017. A year ago (see previous update) the DRD anticipated the draft Vesting Order to acquire the necessary land) would be published in early 2015, and the Ulster Herald said this was now expected in summer 2015. However, both these dates have come and gone and to my knowledge it has not yet been published.

13 Oct 2014: A geotechnical survey is now underway on the site of this road and bridge. The purpose of this work is to find out exactly what is below the ground so that a more detailed design can be produced. The picture below was taken by Gordon Dunn (thank you) and shows this work underway. The vehicles are being used to drill boreholes. In a Question for Written Answer in the Assembly, the DRD Minister confirmed that this work is underway, and gave a timescale as follows: Vesting Order (to acquire the necessary land) early 2015; Construction in "latter part of 2016/17 financial year" (ie, early 2017); completion 2018.

Geotechnical survey work underway on the route of the Strathroy Link Road on 28 Sep 2014 [Gordon Dunn]

19 June 2014: In the DRD Roads Service report to Omagh District Council last week, it was confirmed that Roads Service is committed to this scheme. Because it must be in place for the opening of the new shared education campus at Lisanelly in 2018/19, "Roads Service is committed to the delivery of this scheme by the end of the 2017/18 financial year." This means that we should see the road completed no later than Spring 2018, which would mean construction commencing no later than Spring 2017, ie three years from now. Because it is needed for Lisanelly, the document also confirms that the Department of Education is funding 6m out of the 7m cost, with the remaining 1m presumably being funded by the DRD. The scheme no longer seems to be associated with the Opportunity Omagh development.

4 Apr 2014: In the minutes of a meeting of Omagh District Council on 14 November 2013, it was confirmed that funding has now been secured in principle. It quotes a DRD representative as saying that "it was anticipated that the scheme would commence in 2015/16 through part funding being secured from the Department of Education in conjunction with the Lisanelly Shared Educational Campus scheme and a further 1m provided by Roads Service." The Department of Education has an interest in that it is developing the Lisanelly site for several schools, and provision of the road would greatly benefit the scheme. This is then confirmed in the minutes of a Transport NI [the newly created body that oversees Roads Service] meeting on 26 February 2014 which says that they "noted the Minister for Education has confirmed his Department will fund the construction and land costs; and noted the award of a commission to assist with project development and delivery." There is no mention of 1m from DRD in this latter quote, so it's unclear whether this is still the case or whether the Dept of Education is now funding it all. But it implies that DRD are now assisting with the project development, which would be normal practice as road design is their skill area, and this will incur some cost. So it looks as if we could see work getting underway within the next two years, despite the uncertainty over the Opportunity Omagh development. Good news for Omagh.

9 Dec 2013: In the previous update I was noted that the DRD had applied separately for planning permission for the whole of the Strathroy Link Road. This permission was granted on 20 June 2013. Since then there has been no movement as far as I can ascertain. However, if work has not begun within 5 years the planning permission will expire and the DRD will need to apply all over again. There is no further sign of the Opportunity Omagh development going ahead either, but it still seems to be a live proposal. The plan still seems to be that the private developer will build the first part (Derry Road to river) and the DRD will build the bridge and the link to Strathroy Road. So the two are probably interdependent in terms of timing.

4 Oct 2012: The Developer of Opportunity Omagh applied for planning permission for Phase 1 on 9 March 2011 (application K/2011/0156/RM), and this was granted in full on 7th August 2012. The DRD applied separately for planning permission for the entire road on 8th April 2011 (application K/2011/0258/F). It's not totally clear why the two bodies have applied separately - it may be the DRD hedging their bets. No decision has been made on this latter DRD application. Last week Tesco withdrew its planning application to have a store at the site, but this does not impact on the link road itself. However, until there is sufficient investment in place for the developer to go ahead, the link road will remain on the drawing board.