A1 Junctions Phase 2


Construction scheme (future)
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

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 on Hillsborough Bypass began - 6 Feb 2017

Third public consultation - Jun 2017
Fourth public consultation - Feb 2018
Work to close up gaps in central barrier on Banbridge Bypass took place - Feb and Mar 2018

Public inquiry - Mar 2020
Departmental response to Inquiry – decision to proceed - 28 Jan 2021

Tender for new junctions to be released - unlikely before 2025 - (was Mar 2022 as of Nov 2020)
Construction to get underway - typically a year after tender release

£65-75m as of Nov 2023
(changed from £67m as of Mar 2019; £40-50m as of May 2016; £42.8m as of Nov 2015; £30-45m for the four main schemes, plus £3.6m for the Castlewellan Road scheme as of Feb 2012; £22m as of 2006
See Also

DFI web site on the scheme

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 on the Hillsborough Bypass. Work began 6 Feb 2017 for six weeks. Distance 2.3 km. Cost £230,000.
  • Central crash barrier closed up from Springwell Loanin to Bannview Road Bridge on the Banbridge Bypass. Work began 11 Feb 2018 for three weeks. Cost £200,000.
  • Central crash barrier closed up from Bannview Road Bridge to Castlewellan Road Bridge on the Banbridge Bypass. Work began 4 Mar 2018 for 3-4 weeks. Cost £250,000.
  • Central crash barrier closed up at an agricultural crossing on the Dromore Bypass between Banbridge Road and Lower Quilly Road, and an agricultural crossing on the A1 between Glen Road and Dromore Road, Hillsborough and 1.3 km of new crash barrier in two sections. Work began 4 Mar 2019 for 5 weeks. Cost £200,000.

The Junction Proposals (from north to south)

The only junction proposal located between Hillsborough and Dromore, this will connect Listullycurran Road via a fairly straightforward arrangement with an overbridge and two approach embankments. [DFI 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. [DFI 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. [DFI 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. [DFI 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. [DFI 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 in or out of Old Manse Road, but left-turn movements will be possible. Thus the junction will allow all movements except for exiting the A1 northbound. [DFI map]

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.


17 Apr 2024: This scheme got quite a bit of publicity this past week, with a group of people impacted by deaths on the road holding a gathering at Stormont on Monday. Someone has died on the A1 on average once every 6 months over the past 20 years. The current scheme would remove the "gap junctions" that have been the site of many of these fatalities. However, the scheme is not going to go ahead in the near future as it does not yet have funding, and also because DFI seem to want to await the outcome of the new Regional Strategic Transport Network Transport Plan (RSTNTP) which is still in development. The BBC article mentions that the scheme may be broken up into smaller phases, as reported in the previous update below. This would allow the scheme to proceed piecemeal with smaller cash allocations, such as happened with the previous round of upgrades in 2004-2009 which focused on the stretch from Banbridge to Hillsborough.

8 Mar 2024: As we know, there is currently no funding to build this scheme, but it continues to be very much needed. It now seems that DFI are considering breaking the scheme into phases - much as was done 15 years ago with phase 1 where every junction was a separate contract. In an Oral Answer in the Assembly three days ago, the DFI Minister was asked about the A1 and he commented that "I am looking at ways to finance and deliver those [new junctions], and at whether we can do the work in phases". The same answer was given to a Written Question in February 2024, where the Minister said that "my Department is exploring options to deliver the project in smaller phased packages". This would allow the scheme to proceed piecemeal with smaller cash allocations. However, it must also be noted that in the November 2023 report to Lisburn City and Castlereagh Council DFI said that "a future decision on the subsequent progression of the [A1 junctions phase 2] scheme will be made once the Department’s emerging transport policies and plans have been developed to a sufficient stage, in particular the Regional Strategic Transport Network Transport Plan (RSTNTP)". This suggests that it is not just lack of cash, but also the outcome of the new transport plans that is holding the scheme up. The same document also gives the total estimated cost of the scheme as £65-75m, which is (on average) a bit more than the figure of £67m quoted in 2019.

1 Dec 2023: In DFI's most recent report to Lisburn and Castlereagh Council an update is given on the scheme. The report summarises what we know, but adds that "advance ground investigations" have been completed, which means investigating exactly what material lies underground and at what depth as this will inform the detailed design of the structures. They also add that "archaeological investigations" are also complete. These are required by law and involve checking historical sources and doing some superficial physical investigations on-site to ascertain what type of archaeology, if any, is likely to be encountered once earthworks begin. The report doesn't say when these works were completed, so this may or may not be referring to work that took place some time ago. Currently the project is one of the few that has NOT been paused, and as it has already passed its public inquiry, DFI Roads are now preparing the tender documents which will be used to appoint a contractor. This won't happen until a source of funds has been identified, and at this point no funding has been allocated so once the tender documents are prepared work will then pause pending a funding decision.

15 Sep 2023: DFI Roads last month released a document showing how the current roads programme will be prioritised in the current economic and legislative climate, where DFI is now required to de-carbonise transport. The document confirms that the scheme has NOT been cancelled and hasn't even paused. It does note that, as we already knew, it does not currently have any funding and is not an Executive flagship project so will not happen in the near future. The document states that "Development work on contract documents to continue to progress towards the next key decision on procurement of the scheme which will be considered following confirmation of RSTNTP". This means that they are going to continue the paperwork needed to put the scheme out to tender, should funding be allocated at some point in the future. The RSTNTP (Regional Strategic Transport Network - Transport Plan) is the next road transport plan and is still in development, but which we hope to see within the next year or two. The wording implies that DFI expect improvements to the A1 to be included in the new RSTNTP. While of course we don't know that at this point, it seems to me to be likely to survive as it's primarily a safety-driven scheme.

6 Oct 2022: In their latest report to Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Council DFI provided a further update on this scheme. In the previous update below I commented that the tender documents were now being prepared, and the new update says that these will be completed by "August 2023". We are also told that "due to a change in design standards a modification to the type of safety barrier, from wire rope to a concrete barrier, will be implemented along the full extent of the scheme". I am not certain exactly what has changed in the standards, but concrete barriers are generally considered to be more robust than wire and suitable for higher traffic levels. Additionally, wire is particularly disliked by motorcyclists. The report also says that DFI working on an updated business case (economic argument for building the scheme) and that this should be completed "soon" and will then go to the Dept of Finance for their approval. This would be useful to see as it's likely costs have increased since the last cost estimate in 2019 (£67m). I can't see work getting underway before 2025 at the earliest due to the current economic/budget situation.

24 Aug 2022: In a press release earlier this month, the new DFI Minister announced that he has instructed his staff to prepare the tender documents for the A1 junctions phase 2 scheme "as a priority during 2022/23". As noted in the previous update (below) even if there was a functioning Executive it is unlikely that funding will be available for this scheme in the next 3 years. That said, it does reinforce my impression that this scheme along with the A4 Enniskillen Bypass scheme are the two that are now "top of the pile" at DFI once the A5 and A6 are taken out. My impression is that the A1, in particular, is seen as important by DFI engineers.

8 July 2022: Without a functioning Executive the NI budget for 2022-25 remains in draft form and it is hard to see how funding can be released for this project. That said, while DFI did include this scheme in its bid for the three year budget, the draft budget is very tight with insufficient funds even for committed projects, let alone new ones like this. Without some significant change, not only a restored Executive but also substantially more funding, it is hard to see this scheme progressing to construction in the next three years.

18 Oct 2021: This A1 junctions phase 2 scheme involves closing all the central reservation gaps on the stretch from Hillsborough to Loughbrickland. This specifically omits two other sub-standard sections, namely Sprucefield to Hillsborough and Loughbrickland to Newry (at Beech Hill). However DFI's update to Lisburn and Castlereagh Council in June contained an interesting reference to the first of these, the stretch of the A1 from Sprucefield to Hillsborough. It says "...a feasibility study has been carried out on the section of the A1 between Hillsborough and Sprucefield. This was to consider the potential closure of central median crossings and provision of central median barrier where possible. The outcome of this study is being considered further." The wording does not give any commitment to actually do anything, but it is notable that it is on the radar at least. Hopefully something will also happen on the Loughbrickland to Beech Hill stretch. We will await further developments on both points.

14 Jun 2021: In the previous update on 1 Feb 2021 (below) I reported that DFI were going to "make" two legal orders, the Direction Order, which gives DFI permission to build a new trunk road, and the Stopping Up Order, which gives DFI the power to close up certain side roads and private accesses that join the A1 directly. These orders were legally "made" on 9 June. The Stopping Up Order will come into effect on 24 June, meaning DFI can legally close off these accesses from the date, though in practice they'll remain open until the works have been carried out. The Trunk Road Order takes effect on 5 July. The recent delay to the A5 upgrade will free up some cash over the next year or so, and my feeling is that this is one of three schemes that could benefit (the others being the A24 Ballynahinch Bypass and the A4 Enniskillen Bypass). The next step would be to make the Vesting Order (which will give them the land needed) and start a procurement process to appoint a contractor. The Investment Strategy for NI web site currently anticipates the scheme going out to tender by March 2022, with construction possibly to begin by June 2023. I have to caution that dates given on the ISNI web often bear little relation to reality. But it is at least indicating that it is not far into the future.

1 Feb 2021: Earlier this week DFI published both the report of the Public Inquiry and DFI's response to the report. Both are accessible here, along with a statement the DFI Minister gave about the development. In short, the Inspector recommends that the scheme progress as planned, with only the most minor of tweaks, practically all of which DFI has accepted. In addition, the Minister has decided to proceed with the scheme, which in practical terms means that DFI will now make two legal orders that need to be in place in order to build it - the Direction Order, which gives DFI permission to build a new trunk road, and the Stopping Up Order, which gives DFI the power to close up certain side roads that join the A1 directly. A third legal order is also needed – the Vesting Order, which gives DFI the power to compel landowners to sell the necessary land to them – but DFI are not making that legal order yet as they need to await funding. The Minister appears to regard the scheme as a very high priority, saying "I believe the scheme should be progressed as quickly as possible, subject to completing all the necessary statutory processes and securing the necessary funding". Once funding is found I would expect it to go out to tender very quickly. The fact that the Investment Strategy for NI web site does not anticipate this to happen for another year (March 2022) suggests funding is not expected in the incoming year, but perhaps next year. The announcement was welcomed by many, including the families of the many people who have died on this dangerous stretch of road.

29 Nov 2020: In a Written Answer the DFI Minister stated that the public inquiry inspector finally submitted his report on March's public inquiry to the DFI on 19 October 2020. The report will be published along with DFI's response at a later date, and in her Written Answer the Minister has said that she hoped this would be "towards the end of January 2021". Assuming DFI decides to proceed, the scheme will then need to await a funding allocation from the Executive to proceed to construction. Last year the Investment Strategy for NI web site listed the scheme as planned to go out to tender by March 2021, but this has now been changed to March 2022, a shift of a year. So even with funding, commencement of work on the ground is still at least 2 years away.

11 Sep 2020: In a Written Answer the DFI Minister confirmed that further work on the project has been held up by the Covid-19 pandemic, as the public inspector wished to "undertake a number of site meetings" before submitting his report, and was unable to do so. However, it is now thought that the inspector's report will be given to DFI by "early October". It is likely that the inspector will recommend that the scheme proceed, perhaps with minor tweaks, but it will not be made public at that time. DFI will take some time, usually a few months, to consider all the issues raised and will then publish both the report and their response (Departmental Statement) at the same time. There is as yet no funding allocation for the scheme, so a procurement and construction process won't necessarily begin even if DFI decide to proceed.

12 Jun 2020: The public inquiry into this scheme was held in March so we are now awaiting the inspector's report. The DFI Minister announced her budget for the next year, which allocated money to the Executive's flagship projects (A5, A6 and Belfast Transport Hub) but did not give any funding for any other capital road schemes, including the Enniskillen Bypass. However she followed this up today with a press release clarifying that she had approved funding for the continuation of planning of several planned road schemes, including the A1 Junctions Phase 2. There is a general consensus that this scheme is needed on safety grounds, so I would read this as indicating the Minister's support for the scheme and that it is one of the schemes she hopes to progress once the "flagship" projects have been progressed further.

27 Jan 2020: It has now been confirmed that the public inquiry into this scheme will commence on 11 March 2020 at 10am in the Belmont House Hotel, Banbridge. Ahead of this, there will be a pre-inquiry meeting at 7pm on 6 February 2020 in the Belmont House Hotel. The pre-inquiry meeting is to help work out the schedule for the inquiry and what order it will look at evidence from objectors. Anyone with an interest in the scheme, or affected by it, should consider turning up or sending a representative. The Departmental Statement has been published here - this is what is being considered at the Inquiry.

7 Jan 2020: Yet another fatal crash on this stretch of the A1 in November focused minds once again on these plans to upgrade the road by sealing up all right turns. In 2019 the Investment Strategy for Northern Ireland web site was estimating that the scheme would go out to tender by December 2020. This has now been shifted to March 2021, with tender award by March 2022. More notably, however, the same web page is estimating that construction will not commence until June 2023. That would mean a 15 month gap between tender award and start of construction, which would be rather odd. Perhaps this reflects DFI's anticipation of when funding will become available. Or it could be that the winning contractor will be expected to carry out further design work during that time. I have also said that it is possible that the scheme might actually be tendered as a series of smaller jobs, perhaps single flyover junctions. The last time there was a junction upgrade on the A1, about ten years ago, it happened in this way. One to watch anyway. In the meantime, a public inquiry is planned for March this year.

9 Nov 2019: As I predicted in my previous update (below) DFI seem to have announced that a public inquiry will be held into this scheme in March 2020 (though I can find no mention of this on the DFI web site). Although there has been some criticism of the delay this could create, there are two points that need to be made on this. Firstly, although the odd scheme gets away without one, a public inquiry is normal for a scheme of this scale and is therefore not unexpected. Not holding a public inquiry in the face of objections could leave the scheme open to a legal challenge which would delay it in any case. Secondly, the scheme currently has no funding allocation, so even if a public inquiry does add nine months to the timescale, it's unlikely to hold up construction which has to wait for funding anyway.

26 Jun 2019: DFI have just published their Stage 3 Scheme Assessment Report for this project, which can be seen here. The report includes the final proposed design (in Appendix A), the one that would likely be considered at a public inquiry. The designs for the grade-separated junctions are largely the same as the ones shown further up this page, but with some refinement and tweaks to alignments. The report also includes the design for all the side roads that are to be either stopped up or limited to left-turn only. The scheme encompasses most of the length of the A1 between Hillsborough and Loughbrickland, i.e. it is not merely the provision of four flyover junctions. There is still no funding allocation, and the Investment Strategy NI now lists the scheme as to go out to tender in December 2020, a year later than it was given in the ISNI this time last year. I think we are likely to see a public inquiry as the next step, but this might not now sit until 2020. If the scheme does get funding (it currently has none) then the earliest commencement date would now be late 2021.

7 Apr 2019: As expected, DFI have now published their Environmental Impact Assessment and draft legal orders for this scheme. The public have until 28 June to give their responses. Having completed their design process, the scheme outlined in these documents is now the final proposal, the one that is likely to be examined at a future public inquiry. The timing of this is uncertain, but I do get the impression that DFI are currently working quite hard to get this scheme shovel-ready. It's listed in the  Investment Strategy NI as to go out to tender in December 2019, so I would expect to see a public inquiry convened around the end of 2019. The total cost of the scheme is now being quoted at £67m, which is a lot higher than the £40-50m being quoted in 2016. The scheme does not, however, currently have a funding allocation which would have to be made by a Minister or, in the continued absence of such, a senior civil servant. If funding were to be found, construction getting underway in the second half of 2020 is plausible.

6 Mar 2019: This project continues to edge slowly closer to construction. DFI Roads have said that the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and draft statutory orders will be published later this month. The EIA is the document that sets out DFI's rationale for the scheme and also the impacts it will have. The draft statutory orders will include the Direction Order (that gives DFI the power to build a new trunk road) and the Vesting Order (that compels landowners to sell the necessary land to DFI). It is all these documents that will be examined at the public inquiry that is likely to follow. The Investment Strategy NI web site is still listing this scheme as to go out to tender in December 2019, which is feasible and could see construction getting underway in 2020, though in the absence of an Executive I'm not sure how much we can rely on these dates. Meanwhile, work started on 4 March on the 4th "micro" scheme that is slowly seeing the central reservation gaps closed up between Sprucefield and Loughbrickland. This one will see two more gaps closed up - a somewhat overgrown agricultural crossing on the Dromore Bypass between Banbridge Road and Lower Quilly Road here, and an agricultural crossing on the A1 between Glen Road and Dromore Road, Hillsborough here. Once closed, two stretches of crash barrier will be erected, totalling 1.3 km. These may seem like minor works, but every one of these represents a danger, and needs its own legal order to close, so it's vital that DFI take their time to deal with them all individually. Work is to be completed by mid April at a cost of £200,000.

23 Jun 2018: Although small scale works on closing the central barriers have been ongoing for some months now, we are still awaiting the "big" element of this scheme which is the construction of the four new grade-separated junctions and other links. Interestingly, the Investment Strategy for Northern Ireland Pipeline contains an entry suggesting that this "big" part of the scheme is to go out to tender by December 2019 with a total project cost of £40-45m, an amount sufficient to build all the outstanding elements. Two notes of caution - DFI have repeatedly said that the scheme could be broken into small elements as and when money is available, so putting all four major junctions out to tender at once feels a bit unlikely. It's also worth commenting that without a functioning Executive it's hard to put much certainty in this sort of thing. What we CAN deduce is that this scheme is at least regarded as a high priority once the current flagship projects are underway (A5, A6, York Street). The only other non-flagship schemes that seem to be operating to this timescale are the A4 Enniskillen Bypass and the A24 Ballynahinch Bypass project.

13 Mar 2018: Another public consultation (the fourth for this scheme) happened from 15-21 February. In terms of the new grade-separated junctions, what was presented was almost identical to 2017's proposals. The planners recently uploaded a marvellous, and surprisingly atmospheric, visualisation of what the Waringsford Road grade-separated junction would look like to YouTube here. In the most recent consultation there have been some amendments to the proposals for side roads, principally that Backnamullagh Road will now be stopped up and a link road provided to Listullycurran Road. Therefore in the latest plan, 9 side roads are to be closed completely and the remainder converted to left-in/left-out (LILO). Following public feedback, increased merge/diverge lanes have been added to several LILO junctions. If you missed the consultation, you can see the material here. Meanwhile, work to close the central reservation on the A1 between Hillsborough and Loughbrickland is continuing. The closure of all crossing points on the Banbridge Bypass between Springwell Loanin and Bannview Road Bridge was undertaken between 11 February and the start of March, and between Bannview Road Bridge and Castlewellan Road Bridge beginning on 4 March. The cost was £200k for the former £250k for the latter.

5 Nov 2017: According to details at the bottom of a DFI press release, this scheme has been granted €1.5million (£1.35million) of European Union funding through the Connecting Europe Facility for ongoing design work. Every little helps, as they say!

11 Jun 2017: TransportNI are engaging in another public consultation for the proposal to add four new grade-separated junctions, one new sliproad at Banbridge, and one short link road at Dromore. The consultation also covers the proposal to close up all gaps in the central reservation between Hillsborough and Loughbrickland (except the Hillsborough Bypass which was closed up earlier this year). You can see the various documents here, by scrolling down to "Community Consultation Documents". The proposals are essentially the same as the ones pictured further up this page, just a bit more detailed, so I'm not going to reproduce them all again here. The second document, "Route Map" shows what will happen to all the existing "gap" junctions along this stretch, while the third document "Indicative Junction Layouts" shows the designs for the new junctions and links. I note that the scheme does not seem to include the stretch of the A1 from Hillsborough to Sprucefield. It's not clear why the final couple of miles, which has several "gap junctions", has been excluded - but it may be because of the plan to build an A1 bypass of Sprucefield at an undefined point in the future which, if built, would render such works redundant. The public consultation is an opportunity for all those affected or interested to see the proposals in detail and ask questions of TransportNI representatives, and will take place as follows:

  • Banbridge Old Town Hall, Wednesday 14 June 2017 from 11am to 8pm,
  • Hillsborough Court House, Tuesday 20 June 2017 from 11am to 8pm; and
  • Dromore Town Hall, Thursday 22 June 2017 from 11am to 8pm

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.